Tomorrow night on the main card of UFC Vegas 79, we are going to see a rematch in the strawweight division. Top twelve contenders will battle it out again as Marina Rodriguez (16-3-2) will be taking on “The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson-Gomez (18-11).
These two first fought a little over two years ago with Rodriguez picking up the decision win. Following that win, Rodriguez would go on to pick up wins over Mackenzie Dern and Yan Xiaonan which many thought would earn her the title shot. However, Zhang Weili was given the shot and Rodriguez took on Amanda Lemos who knocked her out in the third round.
From there, Rodriguez took on Virna Jandiroba and was dominated in the grappling exchanges. Rodriguez couldn’t get anything going and lost a lopsided decision. For the first time in her career, she’s lost consecutive fights and now she’s looking to bounce back against a familiar foe.
Michelle Waterson-Gomez desperately needs a win tomorrow night. After starting out her UFC career 5-2, she’s gone just 1-5 in her last six fights including a three-fight losing streak. In her last fight, she lost a very close split decision against Luana Pinheiro. If Waterson-Gomez loses again tomorrow, you have to start wondering what’s next for her at 37-years-old.
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Despite carrying in the nickname of “The Karate Hottie”, we’ve seen Waterson-Gomez excel more inside the octagon when she uses her grappling. Her kicks are always effective and she does have good striking, but in the fights where she’s won, it’s mainly been relying on her grappling.
I’m expecting a very heavy grappling attack from Waterson-Gomez tomorrow night. Rodriguez had nothing for Jandiroba in terms of takedown defense and that’s why she lost. If she hasn’t sured that up, Waterson-Gomez does have the strength to get this fight to the mat.
However, I’m not sure she’ll be able to land enough takedowns and have enough control to outweigh the striking difference on the feet. I’m expecting the bigger and more impactful shots coming from Rodriguez. My biggest question is around Rodriguez’s confidence. She didn’t look like the same Marina Rodriguez in her last fight.
If that same Marina Rodriguez shows up at UFC Vegas 79, I definitely see a path to victory for Waterson-Gomez. However, I think Rodriguez will come in more motivated and I think we see much improved takedown defense. Expect her to land the bigger shots on the feet leading to a close decision win.
Prediction: Marina Rodriguez by Decision