UFC Vegas 26: Rodriguez vs. Waterson Odds, Schedule, Predictions

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2021

UFC Vegas 26: Rodriguez vs. Waterson Odds, Schedule, Predictions

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    A last-minute matchup of strawweight contenders Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson will headline the UFC's latest offering from the APEX Facility in Las Vegas. 

    Rodriguez is coming into the bout on the heels of her biggest victory to date. A knockout win over Amanda Ribas has her on the division's radar, but she'll next meet a proven veteran in Waterson. 

    A fun bantamweight bout between T.J. Dillashaw and Cory Sandhagen was slated to close out the show. However, Dillashaw was forced to withdraw from the fight because of a cut suffered in training. 

    It's a blow to the overall strength of the card, but an appearance from Donald Cerrone and a welterweight collision between Neil Magny and Geoff Neal are intriguing enough for a Saturday night. 

    Here's a look at the whole card, along with odds and predictions for the biggest fights of the night. 

Fight Card, Odds and Schedule—May 8

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    Main Card (ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET)

    • Marina Rodriguez -225 (bet $100 to win $44.44) vs. Michelle Waterson +180 (bet $100 to win $180)
    • Donald Cerrone -200 vs. Alex Morono +165
    • Neil Magny +160  vs. Geoff Neal -200
    • Maurice Greene +150 vs. Marcos Rogerio De Lima -190
    • Diego Ferreira +145 vs. Gregor Gillespie -182
    • Amanda Ribas -190 vs. Angela Hill +150

    Prelims (ESPN+ at 5 p.m. ET)

    • Phillip Hawes +110 vs. Kyle Daukaus -137
    • Ludovit Klein -250 vs. Michael Trizano +195
    • Jun Yong Park +115 vs. Tafon Nchukwi -143
    • Christian Aguilera +135 vs. Carlston Harris -167

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Rodriguez vs. Waterson

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    Jacqueline Larma/Associated Press

    This battle of ranked strawweights will actually be fought at 125 pounds because of the last-minute nature of the fight. With the Dillashaw-Sandhagen fight off, the UFC was left with little time to put together a fight worthy of the main event slot and booked this fight under two weeks ago. 

    The result is an interesting dynamic where neither fighter is making their usual weight cut. 

    You can make the argument that favors either of the fighters. The truth is both could use it to their advantage. Waterson generally brings great cardio to the fight. Not having to cut weight could give her even better endurance as she doesn't have to rehydrate. 

    Rodriguez is already a bigger, more powerful strawweight. She'll get to be even bigger on fight night. 

    Ultimately, this could come down to Waterson's ability to get Rodriguez to the ground without engaging too much in boxing range. Waterson's kicking game is enough to win the fight at range. Her jiu-jitsu is enough to win the grappling. 

    But Rodriguez likely holds the advantage in close quarters, and that's where the danger lies. 

    It's a hard dynamic for Waterson to overcome, and Rodriguez is coming off her best performance yet in a knockout win over Amanda Ribas. 

    Prediction: Rodriguez via decision

Cerrone vs. Morono

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Usually, it's Cerrone stepping in on short notice to save a UFC fight. This time, he'll see a late replacement in the co-main event in Alex Morono. 

    At 38 years old, Cerrone's best days are certainly behind him. After year's of being the anytime, anywhere guy for the UFC, he was helped out by Morono stepping up to take Diego Sanchez's place. 

    The matchup got a whole lot harder for Cerrone with the move, though. Sanchez was 39 years old and 1-2 in his last three fights, with the lone win coming by disqualification. Morono, on the other hand, is 30 years old and is also 1-2 but has a legitimate win against Rhys McKee in there. 

    The losses have been to Anthony Pettis and Khaos Williams.

    Morono isn't the most powerful guy. He has just five knockouts in his career, but he's a good technical striker and is capable of pulling off submissions on the ground. 

    Cerrone is a little too savvy for the latter, but he has lost four consecutive fights with a No Contest thrown in. He's still game, but Morono can pull off the mild upset in a kickboxing matchup. 

    Prediction: Morono via decision

Magny vs. Neal

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    This might be the unofficial main event. Magny and Neal were scheduled to fight once already before this meeting was confirmed. It's a banger of a welterweight matchup. 

    That's because both of these fighters love to push the pace and be in the driver's seat. Magny is a long-limbed striker who looks to overwhelm opponents with his work rate. Neal is similar, albeit a little more focused on his power. 

    That's apparent in the way these two have ended their fights. Neal has only been to a decision four times in his career, taking three of them. Magny has gone to a decision in half of his 32 fights and is 14-2 when the fight goes the distance. 

    The result is going to be an aggressive power-puncher in Neal who wants to look for the knockout and a pace-setter in Magny who will be willing to engage him in a firefight. 

    It's a recipe for two big winners to come out of the fight: the fans and Neal. Magny is at his best when his pressure can force his opponent to wither. That's not the way it will work against Neal, though. He'll look for the knockout blow anywhere and anytime. 

    Prediction: Neal via third-round TKO

         

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