Due to fight cancellations and changing circumstances, fight fans have just four fights to look forward to on the main card as opposed to the standard five. I will be covering the first two fights on the main card, featuring four unranked competitors at Light Heavyweight and Welterweight respectively. Kicking things off on the main card, we have Daniel Rodriguez (12-1) and Takashi Sato (16-3).
Both are exciting prospects in the Welterweight division, and this will likely result in a top-15 matchup next. Following on, we have two massive Light Heavyweights, Marcin Prachnio (13-4) and Mike Rodriguez (10-4,1 NC) who’re also looking to grab the spotlight.
Daniel Rodriguez vs Takashi Sato Background
Rodriguez (12-1), is coming off a standing Guillotine finish against Tim Means and a UD victory over Gabriel Green. Against Green, he took the bout on short notice after preparing for Kevin Holland – a much different opponent – highlighting his professionalism and versatility. He looked terrific against Green who’s as tough as they come. His boxing and output got him the nod from the judges, and he’s impressed in both of his UFC appearances so far.
Rodriguez also trains out of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu who boasts several current top-contenders in the UFC. Most notably, the top Lightweight contender, Tony Ferguson. Prior to joining the UFC, he’s finished people with knees, punches, and vicious ground-and-pound while also racking up an impressive four submission victories. While Rodriguez is still making a name for himself, it’s clear that his goal is to finish the fight. This can also be said for Sato, so this is a much watch fight.
Sato has looked phenomenal since joining the UFC. He’s coming into the contest with a first-round TKO over Jason Witt and made a statement when he finished Ben Saunders in his UFC debut. He had a slight hiccup when he lost to Belal Muhammad in 2019 but has immediately corrected that. He’s an exciting prospect and at 30-years-old, the Japanese native still has plenty of time to officially announce himself.
Sato – while relatively short at Welterweight at 5”10 – has shown raw power. He trains with Henri Hooft, one of the best striking coaches in the game. He’s a black belt in Judo, so the double-threat of KO power and the ability to dump you in the blink of an eye is a rare combination. He’s also a southpaw, so he’s got a variety of unique tools to use at his disposal.
Rodriguez is a gritty pressure striker that welcomes a brawl. He’s got a great boxing foundation and he never stops pressing forward. Rodriguez fights southpaw and loves to switch stances which creates angles of attack. Like most good boxers, he sets his counters up with the jab and follows with his big power shot. The overhand left. He landed this repeatedly against Means and rocked him on multiple occasions. This is the key to success for him again Sato.
This clash is even more interesting as Sato fights similarly. He likes to lead with the jab and he dropped Saunders and Witt in a similar fashion. The left hand that he through straight down the pipe to drop Saunders was a thing of beauty. As mentioned previously, he isn’t a massive man in stature but carries real power in his left hand. He did this to Watt too and when he has you hurt, he unloads with vicious ground-and-pound. Sato is particularly fond of throwing elbows from the top which has resulted in two violent stoppages.
Both men fight at a high pace and have a lot of similarities. Perhaps the one big differentiator is Sato’s trump card; his Judo. We haven’t seen much of this yet (mostly as he’s finished his fights quickly), but we’re also yet to see Rodriguez’s grappling game. Sato would be smart to mix this in to break Rodriguez’s stride, as the latter seems to improve as the fight goes on.
As both men are so game, we’ll likely see straight lefts exchanged and it may come down to who gets clipped first. Rodriguez is durable and has a phenomenal chin, but so does Sato. Unless Sato decides to quickly mix in his Judo. Sato also has multiple submission finishes, so if he can get Rodriguez down, he poses a real threat in that department.
Sato is the more well-rounded fighter, but only just. Rodriguez is relentless at times and that pressure can be hard to keep up with. As we haven’t seen anyone walk Sato down, this is a significant factor in the fight. This is a must-watch fight and has a performance bonus written all over it. If it goes to a decision, Sato will likely have his hand raised. But, Sato, while typically very precise, may overextend which will allow Rodriguez to land that left-hand KO.
Rodriguez (Round 2, TKO)
Marcin Prachnio vs Mike Rodriguez Background
Prachnio and Rodriguez are two intriguing prospects with raw power. The pair have close to an 80% combined finish rate, with a catalog of violent stoppages. That said, they’re both coming off 1st round losses and they’ll need to turn this around quickly to regain momentum. They haven’t exactly impressed since making it to the UFC, but this provides a platform to turn things around.
Prachnio, the Polish national, is a sizable force. At 6”3, he fights long and likes to mix his striking up. However, he came into the UFC at 12-2 and has succumbed to two first-round losses. In those defeats, he’s taken huge shots that separated him from his consciousness.
He had a huge amount of success in ONE prior to joining where he looked far more aggressive. He was riding an impressive 8-fight winning streak with 6 finishes, so it’s tough to put a finger on why he hasn’t shown that yet in the UFC. He’s looked reluctant to pull the trigger in the UFC so far which has allowed his opponents to capitalize. He has got to regain confidence and back himself, particularly due to the KO threat that Rodriguez carries.
Rodriguez was part of DWTNCS and secured a contract with his win over Jamelle Jones, finishing him via flying knee in the 1st round. That was a statement of intent for the Boston native. He then lost to Devin Clark via unanimous decision, but immediately bounced back 6 months later when he added another finish against Adam Milstead. Equally as violent as his finish over Jones. He then lost another UD against Allan, but it was overturned as Allan tested positive for tamoxifen.
The DWTNCS star is a monstrous athlete. He’s 6”4 with an 83-inch reach. He’s shown off crazy dexterity and athleticism for his size but hasn’t been able to put a run together since making it to the UFC. When he’s on though, he’s a gargantuan threat that has a 100% finish rate (8 TKO’s, 2 Submissions). He also averages nearly 2 knockdowns every 15 minutes.
We’re likely going to see a fully stand-up contest between the pair. Given their defensive issues, this should result in a relatively quick finish. Rodriguez has a nearly 10-inch reach advantage over Prachnio, making things difficult for Prachnio to close range and get inside the pocket to land his power shots. As they’re both coming off losses, it may start slowly. They can’t really allow this though, as one more loss for either man could result in them being cut from the UFC.
Most of the exchanges will likely look like a kickboxing match. They both throw leg kicks to set up their power punches. With Rodriguez’s reach, he’ll likely be more effective in controlling range. He also throws at a much higher rate but gets hit more. This is the most exciting facet of the fight as they may leave themselves open. They’ve got to be more calculated in how they move forward. When Prachnio has been rocked, he’s pressed with his hands low which he cannot do against Rodriguez.
Regardless, Rodriguez needs to respect the power we saw in ONE. Prachnio can finish with his hands, knees, and kicks so he remains a genuine threat. The length and range that Rodriguez has at his disposal is a crucial tool to victory. If he can keep Prachnio at range, he negates the power threat while still carrying the threat himself.
This looks to be a bad matchup for Prachnio. Despite their recent runs being similar, Prachnio has looked a shadow of his former self when fighting in ONE. Rodriguez carries advantages in power, athleticism and with a 100% finish rate, this has trouble written all over it for the Polish national. To add to this, we haven’t seen Prachnio since September of last year. This may work in his favor, but his inactivity may be something that Rodriguez to capitalize on.
Rodriguez (Round 1, TKO)
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