Tomorrow night in the main event of UFC Vegas 26, we will see a matchup between two of the best strawweights in the world. The Karate Hottie Michelle Waterson (18-8) is taking on Marina Rodriguez (13-1-2) in a short-notice main event.
Just over a week ago, this fight wasn’t even on this card. The main event was supposed to be TJ Dillashaw – Cory Sandhagen. However, Dillashaw suffered a cut in training and that fight had to be pushed back.
The UFC got together with Waterson and Rodriguez and made this fight happen. While these are both top ten strawweights, the fight will be taking place at flyweight given the short-notice nature of the main event.
Waterson comes into this one off of a great win over Angela Hill last September. That was another fight that turned out to be a short-notice main event. After the main event fell through, Waterson and Hill agreed to move their fight to five rounds and move up the card.
That is telling here because it shows you the kind of shape Michelle Waterson is in. At UFC Vegas 26, I have no doubts that she will be able to push a pace as if she was preparing for a fight the entire time.
This is a massive opportunity for Marina Rodriguez. Rodriguez is coming off of knocking out Amanda Ribas back at UFC 257. If she’s able to knock off Waterson, she could be only a win away from a title shot at 115 pound.
UFC Vegas 26 Prediction
The UFC Vegas 26 main event is so interesting to me especially considering the short-nature aspect of it. I know that Michelle Waterson is going to be able to fight as if she was preparing for this fight, but I’m not sure how Rodriguez is going to do with it.
Not having to cut to 115 pounds should definitely help Rodriguez here as she’s the much bigger fighter. For Rodriguez, she’s going to have to keep this fight standing. While Waterson’s nickname is ‘The Karate Hottie’ she usually gets wins by using her wrestling and grappling.
When she’s forced to stand and trade with strikers, she’s susceptible to getting hit. Waterson is always undersized and it’s important to remember that she naturally fought at 105 pound in Invicta, but when she moved to the UFC, she had to fight at 115.
Rodriguez has the power advantage and if Waterson can’t get this down, I could even see Rodriguez getting a finish. However, I do think Waterson is going to be able to use her grappling a lot in this fight. We saw Amanda Ribas have success taking Rodriguez down and holding her there.
With the fight being short-notice, I’m actually going to lean slightly towards Waterson here. With full camps, I’d probably pick Rodriguez, but with all the circumstances on the table here, I’m going to pick the Karate Hottie to get a decision win using her wrestling.
Prediction: Michelle Waterson by Decision