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Fight By Fight Preview | UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Rodriguez

Get Ready For UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Rodriguez By Previewing Every Fight On The Card.

Updated Phil Hawes vs Deron Winn removed from Fight Card - 10/8/21

MACKENZIE DERN VS. MARINA RODRIGUEZ

 

Mackenzie Dern sparring for UFC Vegas 39

Strawweight contenders clash atop this weekend’s fight card, as Mackenzie Dern and Marina Rodriguez square off in a highly anticipated battle between two of the division’s elite.

Dern has been lights out over her last four fights, securing four wins, three finishes, and three Performance of the Night bonuses, while showcasing improved striking and elite finishing skills. The biggest development, however, has been her increased ability to dictate the terms of engagement, as the 28-year-old has done a better job of turning forward pressure into clinch and takedown opportunities, which allow her to get into her grappling attacks and setups much quicker.

RELATED: Mackenzie Dern Is After Records And The Belt

After fighting just once in 2020 and landing on the sour side of a split decision verdict in that contest, Rodriguez entered this year eager to fight three times and cement her standing as a top contender. Mission accomplished so far as the Muay Thai stylist has scored victories over Amanda Ribas and Michelle Waterson to head into Saturday’s main event with a 14-1-2 record overall and a chance to put herself in the title conversation if she can halt Dern’s run of success.

This is a tremendous matchup between two highly skilled competitors with differing strengths, which should make for a captivating way to close out the night.

RANDY BROWN VS. JARED GOODEN

Randy Brown prepares to fight Vicente Luque in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 01, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Randy Brown prepares to fight Vicente Luque in their welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 01, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Welterweight finishes coming off impressive stoppage victories meet in the co-main event as Randy Brown and Jared Gooden look to build on their most recent successes.

Now 31 years old, Brown appears to finally be putting everything together and readying to make a run towards the Top 15, entering Saturday’s contest off a slick first-round submission win over Alex Oliveira and boasting a 3-1 record over his last four fights. The former Lookin’ for a Fight star has earned eight victories in a dozen UFC appearances thus far while showing continual progress throughout his career, with his last effort standing as the best performance of his career and a potential jump off point for even greater success.

Don't Miss Any Of Saturday's Action On ESPN+

Gooden fell on the wrong side of the scorecards in each of his first two UFC appearances, dropping decisions to Alan Jouban and Abubakar Nurmagomedov in a four-month stretch. But he jumped at the chance to face Niklas Stolze on short notice back in the summer, tagging in for Mounir Lazzez, and made the absolute most of it, knocking out the German welterweight in 68 seconds to register his first UFC victory.

Both of these men have good size and a long reach for this division, plus proven power in their hands, so no one should be surprised if this welterweight clash yields a finish that everyone is talking about on Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

TIM ELLIOTT VS. MATHEUS NICOLAU

Tim Elliott celebrates after his victory over Ryan Benoit in their flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 16, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Tim Elliott celebrates after his victory over Ryan Benoit in their flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 16, 2020 in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

It’s a gem in the flyweight division as resurgent veteran Tim Elliott squares off with Brazilian hopeful Matheus Nicolau in a bout with Top 10 ramifications.

A former title contender and rankings fixture since returning to the UFC following his impressive run on The Ultimate Fighter, Elliott enters Saturday’s contest on a two-fight winning streak after posting consecutive decision wins over Ryan Benoit and Jordan Espinosa. The veteran has been back training with James Krause at Glory MMA & Fitness and believes he’s at his best with Krause at the helm, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain the success he’s been having since getting the band back together.

View The Entire UFC Fight Night: Dern vs Rodriguez

Nicolau returned to the UFC following a two-fight absence in March, registering a split decision win over Manel Kape. The 28-year-old went 2-1 in his first run with the promotion, posting wins over John Moraga and Louis Smolka, and hustled right back into the Top 15 with his win over Kape. If he topples Elliott this weekend, he would most likely usurp his position in the Top 10.

Flyweight has been hitting on all cylinders this year and for the last couple years, and this should be another spirited battle between two of the best in the division, helping to clarify the pecking order as we head towards the championship trilogy fight between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo and the close of 2021.

SABINA MAZO VS. MARIYA AGAPOVA

Sabina Mazo of Colombia reacts after her submission victory over Justine Kish of Russia in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 12, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Sabina Mazo of Colombia reacts after her submission victory over Justine Kish of Russia in a flyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 12, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Flyweights with bushels of potential clash here as Sabina Mazo drops back down to the 125-pound ranks to meet the returning Mariya Agapova on Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas.

Despite putting together a three-fight winning streak and earning her first finish in the UFC, Mazo moved up to bantamweight to begin her 2021 campaign but landed on the wrong side of a decision to veteran Alexis Davis in February. Now Mazo is moving back to the flyweight ranks, where she’s earned victories over Shana Dobson, JJ Aldrich, and Justine Kish while winning nine of her first 10 fights.

Agapova showed a ton of upside in battling to a decision loss against Tracy Cortez during the third season of the Contender Series, then earned a pair of first-round finishes under the Invicta FC banner to validate her hype and earn a UFC contract. After rolling through Hannah Cifers in her debut, the confident 24-year-old from Kazakhstan started fast, but faded hard in her sophomore showing against Shana Dobson before ultimately getting stopped early in the second round.

Mazo and Agapova have matching 9-2 records, though the former has faced superior competition both prior to and since arriving in the UFC. That being said, they’ve each been shown flashes of elite upside and periods of inconsistency, so it will be interesting to see which one is able to channel the positive pieces of their game best on Saturday and get back into the win column.

CHRIS GUTIERREZ VS. FELIPE COLARES

Bantamweights looking to break through in the talent-rich division meet in this preliminary card pairing as Chris Gutierrez takes on Felipe Colares.

Since dropping his promotional debut to Raoni Barcelos on November 30, 2018, Gutierrez has put together a 4-0-1 record, including victories over Vince Morales and Andre Ewell. The 30-year-old Factory X Muay Thai representative works with a great crew, has hellacious kicks, and just a single defeat in his last 10 fights, entering Saturday’s contest in the best form of his career and eager to take another step forward in the ultra-competitive 135-pound weight class.

Athlete Profiles: Gutierrez | Colares

Colares survived a rough first round to rally and earn a decision win over Luke Sanders last time out, bringing his UFC record to 2-2 in the process. The 27-year-old has good size for the division and is still putting the pieces of his game together, which is part of why he’s been inconsistent thus far inside the Octagon. But with plenty of time to prepare for this one and coming off a gutsy performance last time out, don’t be surprised if we see the best version of “Cabocao” yet on Saturday.

Advancing in the bantamweight division is difficult at the moment, as the weight class has never been deeper or stocked with more talented fighters. Now, more than ever, each win is critical and each loss can set you back a couple of steps, so expect both Gutierrez and Colares to come out aggressively, looking to secure an impressive victory and take another step forward in their respective quests to crack the Top 15.

ALEXANDER ROMANOV VS. JARED VANDERAA

The heavyweights take center stage here with Alexander Romanov looks to remain unbeaten when he steps in opposite Contender Series alum Jared Vanderaa.

Athlete Profiles: Romanov | Vanderaa

A perfect 14-0 for his career and the winner of three straight in the UFC, Romanov dominated his first two appearances, earning submission wins over Roque Martinez and Marcos Rogerio de Lima before struggling in his April clash with Juan Espino. The bout was halted a minute into the third round when Romanov was rendered unable to continue following an accidental low blow, and when the scores were tallied, the Moldovan landed on the happy side of a split decision verdict to keep his perfect record intact.

After landing on the business end of things in his promotional debut opposite Serghei Spivac in February, Vanderaa returned in May to register a unanimous decision win over Justin Tafa to secure his first UFC victory. A Team Quest representative who claimed gold in South Africa’s EFC promotion by beating former UFC competitor Ruan Potts, the 29-year-old Vanderaa is a mountain of a man and the kind of tough out that should push Romanov on Saturday.

CHARLES ROSA VS. DAMON JACKSON

Charles Rosa prepares to fight Justin Jaynes in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 26, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Charles Rosa prepares to fight Justin Jaynes in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 26, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Featherweight veterans Charles Rosa and Damon Jackson meet in this preliminary card contest that has the potential to be an entertaining, scramble-heavy affair.

Rosa continued his pattern of alternating results in June, securing a split decision win over Justin Jaynes to once again bring his UFC record level at five wins and five losses. The Massachusetts-born, South Florida-based staple of the 145-pound weight class has never lost two straight in his career, is as game as they come and is likely champing at the bit to finally string together a couple victories inside the Octagon.

Jackson returned to the UFC a little over a year ago, rallying to pull off an upset win over Mirsad Bektic that gave him back-to-back victories and seven wins in his previous eight fights. He jumped back into action less than three months later and ran into rising star Ilia Topuria, suffering just the fourth loss of his career, and will be looking to rebound when he shares the cage with Rosa this weekend.

Both men are Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioners with solid striking and a wealth of experience, so no matter where this one plays out, it should be competitive and captivating for as long as it lasts.

LOOPY GODINEZ VS. SAM HUGHES

Lupita Godinez at the UFC Apex, April 2021 (Photo by Nolan Walker/Zuffa LLC)
Lupita Godinez at the UFC Apex, April 2021 (Photo by Nolan Walker/Zuffa LLC)

Strawweights that shared the cage as amateurs now meet inside the Octagon in a battle where the winner will earn their first UFC victory as Loopy Godinez and Sam Hughes get reacquainted with one another on Saturday.

After pushing her professional record to 5-0 by claiming the LFA belt with a majority decision win over Vanessa Demopoulos, Godinez faced former title challenger Jessica Penne in her promotional debut, losing a close split decision in April. The 28-year-old has mixed in trips to work with Alexa Grasso in Mexico and Sarah Kaufman in Victoria along with getting her usual rounds in at home in the Vancouver area, and she should be at her best when she steps into the Octagon this weekend.

Hughes dropped her short-notice debut to Tecia Torres last December when an inadvertent eye poke prompted a stoppage after the first round. She returned in May and landed on the wrong side of the cards in a bout against Loma Lookboonmee, and hits the Octagon on Saturday looking to snap out of this two-fight skid and finally get things moving in the right direction.

STEVE GARCIA VS. CHARLIE ONTIVEROS

Long-time regional staples Steve Garcia and Charlie Ontiveros meet in their shared sophomore outings under the UFC banner to kick off Saturday’s fight card.

A pro since 2013, Garcia battled a host of future UFC competitors on his way to the Octagon, including Ricky Turcios, Ronnie Lawrence, and Aalon Cruz, but came up short in his promotional debut, dropping a unanimous decision to Luis Pena in February 2020. He’s been forced to withdraw from a pair of fights since then but returns this weekend looking to recapture the form that produced four straight victories prior to his first foray into the UFC cage.

A fixture in Texas’ top two promotions, Ontiveros jumped at the chance to fill in on short notice opposite fellow Texan Kevin Holland last Halloween, moving up in weight to do so, but quickly landing on the sidelines after suffering a neck injury during a fight-ending slam midway through the opening round. Sidelined ever since, the “American Bad Boy” hopes the move back down in weight and a date with a more suitable opponent will yield a much better result on Saturday night.