After much uncertainty, Marina Rodriguez vs Michelle Waterson is set to officially headline UFC Vegas 26. It’s a massive opportunity for the strawweights as both look to jump into contender status.
Despite being booked just a few days ago, these ladies are still scheduled to battle it out for five rounds. However, this bout will take place at flyweight which is something new for both competitors. “The Karate Hottie” is no stranger to headlining though, as this will be her fourth UFC main event. Meanwhile, her Brazilian counterpart is set to serve as the centerpiece for the very first time since joining the promotion in 2018. The winner of Marina Rodriguez vs Michelle Waterson will very likely find themselves facing a top-five opponent in their next outing.
UFC Vegas 26 Main Event Breakdown
The #6 ranked strawweight Rodriguez enters this contest roughly four months removed from her TKO victory over Amanda Ribas, which earned her a Performance of the Night nod. The 34-year-old secured her UFC contract on the Contender Series (Brazil) in 2018, and since then she’s amassed a record of 3-1-2 with her lone defeat coming via split decision to Carla Esparza.
The #9 ranked strawweight Waterson is a bonafide UFC veteran at this point in her career, and her last outing against Angela Hill proved that she still has the fire and desire to leave it all out there. The Jackson Wink MMA Academy affiliate has a record of 5-4 in the UFC as she’s still searching for consistency in terms of wins. The 35-year-old has gone the distance in main events twice before so don’t expect her cardio to fail her if they reach the fourth and fifth rounds at UFC Vegas 26.
This is a fairly close matchup on the surface, but the biggest disparity in Marina Rodriguez vs Michelle Waterson has to be the height and reach advantage of the Brazilian. It’s a little more complex than just the numbers though. Rodriguez is adept at connecting on the very end of her strikes, while still packing some serious pop in her punches. Moreover, she uses her height advantage most notably in clinch scenarios where she can come over the top to connect with elbows. This makes her dangerous both at range and in close quarters for this Marina Rodriguez vs Michelle Waterson fight.
Conversely, Waterson has a keen ability to throw unorthodox kicks while not sacrificing her technique. Perhaps her most dangerous strike is her right head kick, which she is able to utilize from close range, oftentimes catching her opponents off guard. In her bout against Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Waterson displayed her full arsenal of attacks on the feet. Respect will need to be earned early on versus the surging Rodriguez.
Marina Rodriguez vs Michelle Waterson Final Thoughts
By nearly all accounts, Marina Rodriguez vs Michelle Waterson is a very close contest. Yet, if a finish were to occur it would almost assuredly be via the Thai Brasil Floripa trainee. However, the longer that this fight lasts the more it benefits “The Karate Hottie”. This is because she has been in that situation multiple times in the past while her opponent hasn’t.
The biggest issue facing Waterson is that she might be at a disadvantage in terms of both power and speed. Rodriguez possesses finishing ability in her hands, which could ultimately decide the fight in the early rounds. It’s difficult to see how the Brazilians momentum gets halted at UFC Vegas 26.
Who do you see winning this Marina Rodriguez vs Michelle Waterson fight? Drop your prediction in the comment section!
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