A future title shot could be on the line in a battle of two of the top up-and-coming female talents in the UFC.
Mackenzie Dern will face Marina Rodriguez in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas. Both are on winning streaks and are looking to gain an edge in the competitive UFC women’s strawweight division.
ESPN ranks Rodriguez No. 4 and Dern No. 6 at women’s 155 pounds. The winner could find herself close to a title shot, with No. 1 Rose Namajunas defending against No. 2 Zhang Weili at UFC 268 on Nov. 6 in New York. Carla Esparza is ranked No. 3 and she is likely to get the Namajunas vs. Zhang winner, but the Dern vs. Rodriguez winner would be right in the mix.
Dern (11-1), was once considered the best pound-for-pound women’s jiu-jitsu competitor in the world, has won four straight and is coming off a first-round submission over Nina Nunes in April. The Arizona native of Brazilian descent fights out of Orange County, California, under coach Jason Parillo, who has coached the likes of legends BJ Penn, Michael Bisping and Cris Cyborg. Dern, 28, is 6-1 in the UFC with her only loss coming to Amanda Ribas in 2019.
Rodriguez (14-1-2) has won two in a row, most recently a unanimous decision win over Michelle Waterson in May. The Brazil native is 4-1-2 in the UFC with a pair of draws coming against Cynthia Calvillo and Randa Markos. Rodriguez, 34, has been a pro MMA fighter only since 2015. She competed in Muay Thai prior to that.
Also on the card, Tim Elliott meets Matheus Nicolau in what should be an all-action flyweight scrap, Sabina Mazo takes on Mariya Agapova in a women’s flyweight prospect bout and heavyweight up-and-comer Alexandr Romanov tries to stay undefeated against Jared Vanderaa.
Follow along as Marc Raimondi recaps all the action, and watch the fights on ESPN+.
Fight in progress:
The win was a big one for Jackson, but the story of the fight was one of the bloodiest rounds in UFC history.
Rosa landed a spinning, upward elbow — reminiscent of the one Yair Rodriguez used against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung — to open the third round. The blow opened up a gnarly cut to the right of Jackson’s right eye.
That was a nasty elbow!! #UFCVegas39
— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) October 9, 2021
To Jackson’s credit, he never lost his cool and held on fir a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27) win. Most of the third round consisted of Rosa and Jackson grappling in a slippery mess of Jackson’s blood.
Jackson, 33, has won two of three fights in his second UFC run. The Texas resident holds a 10-3 record since his first stint in the UFC, which ended in 2016. Rosa, a 35-year-old Massachusetts native fighting out of Florida, has alternated wins and losses in all of his 11 UFC fights going back to 2014.
Godinez dominated the whole way with her wrestling and grappling. Then, she transitioned from the back into a beautiful armbar, and the submission finish came at 4:14 of the first round.
Godinez, a 28-year-old Mexican fighting out of Vancouver, picked up her first UFC victory after falling to Jessica Penne by split decision in April. Godinez is a former LFA strawweight champion. Gomez Juarez, a 36-year-old from Argentina, was making her UFC debut on short notice.
Godinez lost her original opponent, Sam Hughes, due to COVID-19 protocols. Gomez Juarez, who was scheduled for Dana White’s Contender Series on Tuesday, got called up for this bout. Gomez Juarez had a three-fight winning streak snapped.
Garcia was dropped twice in the first round, but split Ontiveros open late in the first round and finished on the ground — from mount — with punches one round later. The official result was a TKO at 1:51 of the second round.
Garcia, a 29-year-old New Mexico native, has won five of six, but this was his first UFC victory. Ontiveros, a 30-year-old fighting out of Texas, has lost two in a row to start his UFC run. Ontiveros debuted in the UFC at middleweight last October, and in this fight, competed in a division that’s 30 pounds lighter.
Still to come
Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern (11-1, 6-1 UFC; -170) vs. Marina Rodriguez (14-1-2, 4-1-2 UFC; +145)
Welterweight: Randy Brown (13-4, 7-4 UFC; -230) vs. Jared Gooden (18-6, 1-2 UFC; +190)
Men’s flyweight: Tim Elliott (18-11-1, 6-9 UFC; +170) vs. Matheus Nicolau (16-3-1, 4-1 UFC; -200)
Women’s flyweight: Sabina Mazo (9-2, 3-2 UFC; -170) vs. Mariya Agapova (9-2, 1-1 UFC; +145)
Men’s bantamweight: Chris Gutierrez (16-3-2, 4-1-1 UFC; -260) vs. Felipe Colares (10-2, 2-2 UFC; +210)