A future title shot could be on the line in a battle of two of the top up-and-coming female talents in the UFC.
Mackenzie Dern will face Marina Rodriguez in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas. Both are on winning streaks and are looking to gain an edge in the competitive UFC women’s strawweight division.
ESPN ranks Rodriguez No. 4 and Dern No. 6 at women’s 155 pounds. The winner could find herself close to a title shot, with No. 1 Rose Namajunas defending against No. 2 Zhang Weili at UFC 268 on Nov. 6 in New York. Carla Esparza is ranked No. 3 and she is likely to get the Namajunas vs. Zhang winner, but the Dern vs. Rodriguez winner would be right in the mix.
Dern (11-1), was once considered the best pound-for-pound women’s jiu-jitsu competitor in the world, has won four straight and is coming off a first-round submission over Nina Nunes in April. The Arizona native of Brazilian descent fights out of Orange County, California, under coach Jason Parillo, who has coached the likes of legends BJ Penn, Michael Bisping and Cris Cyborg. Dern, 28, is 6-1 in the UFC with her only loss coming to Amanda Ribas in 2019.
Rodriguez (14-1-2) has won two in a row, most recently a unanimous decision win over Michelle Waterson in May. The Brazil native is 4-1-2 in the UFC with a pair of draws coming against Cynthia Calvillo and Randa Markos. Rodriguez, 34, has been a pro MMA fighter only since 2015. She competed in Muay Thai prior to that.
In the co-main event, Randy Brown takes on Jared Gooden in a battle of promising welterweights. Brown (13-4) has won three of his past four fights. Gooden (18-6) has won four of six.
Also on the card, Tim Elliott meets Matheus Nicolau in what should be an all-action flyweight scrap, Sabina Mazo takes on Mariya Agapova in a women’s flyweight prospect bout and heavyweight up-and-comer Alexandr Romanov tries to stay undefeated against Jared Vanderaa.
Follow along as Marc Raimondi recaps all the action, and watch the fights on ESPN+.
Fight in progress
Lightweight: Steve Garcia (11-4, 0-1 UFC; -310) vs. Charlie Ontiveros (11-7, 0-1 UFC; +250)
Still to come
Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern (11-1, 6-1 UFC, -170) vs. Marina Rodriguez (14-1-2, 4-1-2 UFC, +145)
Welterweight: Randy Brown (13-4, 7-4 UFC, -230) vs. Jared Gooden (18-6, 1-2 UFC, +190)
Men’s flyweight: Tim Elliott (18-11-1, 6-9 UFC, +170) vs. Matheus Nicolau (16-3-1, 4-1 UFC, -200)
Women’s flyweight: Sabina Mazo (9-2, 3-2 UFC, -170) vs. Mariya Agapova (9-2, 1-1 UFC, +145)
Men’s bantamweight: Chris Gutierrez (16-3-2, -260) vs. Felipe Colares (10-2, 2-2 UFC, +210)
Heavyweight: Alexandr Romanov (14-0, 3-0 UFC, -625) vs. Jared Vanderaa (12-5, 1-1 UFC, +450)
Men’s featherweight: Charles Rosa (14-5, 4-1-1 UFC, +150) vs. Damon Jackson (18-4-1 1 NC, 1-2-1 1 NC UFC, -175)
Strawweight: Loopy Godinez (5-1, 0-1 UFC, -270) vs. Silvana Gomez Juarez (10-2, 0-0 UFC, +220)