Marina Rodriguez picked up a huge unanimous-decision win to close out UFC Vegas 26 against Michelle Waterson from the organization's Apex Facility in Las Vegas.
Rodriguez was too big, too fast and too persistent for Waterson over the course of five rounds.
With both fighters fighting at 125 pounds instead of their traditional 115, Rodriguez's size stood out early. She was clearly the bigger fighter and her strikes landed heavy early for Waterson.
Rodriguez seized the early upper hand with her heavy strikes. It wasn't a frenetic pace from the beginning but the bigger fighter's hits came with more consequence.
Building off the successful first round, Rodriguez turned up that heat in the second frame, showing little signs of slowing down while continuing to build the lead. Waterson spent most of her time circling away from Rodriguez but couldn't find a way to mount much offense of her own.
That trend continued in the third and by the time it got to the championship rounds the disparity was clear.
Hope showed up for Waterson in the form of a takedown and some time in top position in the fourth round. The veteran help top position for a large swath of the fourth round, giving hop that she may be able to get things turned around.
She continued to show some signs of life in the fifth and final round but the night was about Rodriguez's own skills. She looked like the better fighter over the course of five rounds and Waterson was on the losing end of a fairly easy fight to judge.
Here's a look at how the rest of the card played out.
- Marina Rodriguez defeated Michelle Waterson (49-46 x2, 48-47).
- Alex Morono def. Donald Cerrone via TKO at 4:40 of Round 1.
- Neil Magny def. Geoff Neal via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
- Marcos Rogerio de Lima def. Maurice Greene via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27).
- Gregor Gillespie def. Diego Ferreira via TKO at 4:51 of Round 2.
- Phil Hawes def. Kyle Daukaus via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27).
- Michael Trizano def. Ludovit Klein via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
- Jun Yong Park def. Tafon Nchukwi via majority decision (30-25, 29-26, 28-28).
- Carlston Harris def. Christian Aguilera via submission (Anaconda choke) at 2:52 of Round 1.
Alex Morono def. Donald Cerrone
In a night that was light on finishes, Alex Morono took full advantage of his co-main event opportunity with a first-round TKO win over Donald Cerrone.
Morono was unafraid to strike with Cerrone from the beginning. Cowboy was a willing participant in the exchanges but when Morono stayed in the pocket and uncorked a right hand in response to his oponnent's he connected and had Cowboys reeling.
His killer instinct was on display as he saw the opening, applied pressure and forced the referee to make a decision on the fight. The official opted to protect Cerrone.
The win is the biggest of Morono's career at this point. Coming off a loss against Anthony Pettis, he had to prove he could be a known UFC veteran like Cerrone. He passed that test with flying colors.
Stepping in on short notice for Diego Sanchez, Morono took advantage of the situation and put his name in the spotlight.
Neil Magny def. Geoff Neal
Neil Magny just doesn't stop. The Haitian Sensation's volume was the key difference as Magny took a unanimous decision from Neal in a solid fight.
Judges were faced with the general question of whether they favored the constant activity of Neil Magny or the more powerful strikes from Neal. When Neal let his hands go and they landed, there was an obvious impact but those moments were simply too few to get the nod in the second and third rounds.
According to ESPN, Magny landed 20 more significant strikes over the course of the fight, 55-35.
This is what fans should have already come to expect from Magny at this point. He is one of the most consistent and persistent fighters in the division. He notched his 18th UFC win in an underappreciated career.
Marcos Rogerio de Lima def. Maurice Greene
There was more action between rounds than there was between the bells in Marcos Rogerio de Lima's win over Maurice Greene in the heavyweight division.
The fight itself was a one-sided affair in which de Lima's top control rendered Greene defenseless. The Brazilian never did much to get close to drawing the finish but spent the vast majority of the fight in control.
After the second round, de Lima landed a punch after the bell that drew Greene's ire and led to a stern lecture from Herb Dean for both fighters going into Round 3. Dean mentioned taking a point from De Lima, but the final scores (in which De Lima had 30 points on each scorecard) didn't seem to bare that out:
Greene's lack of a plan on the ground is concerning for him moving forward. De Lima provided a blueprint for any and all future opponents.
De Lima continues his pattern of alternating wins and losses over his last 11 fights all the way back to 2014.
Gregor Gillespie def. Carlos Diego Ferreira
It's been nearly a year-and-a-half since Gregor Gillespie was last seen in the Octagon, but he made up for lost time in his second-round TKO win over Carlos Diego Ferreira.
The matchup was a grappling fan's dream. Gillespie brought his signature relentless wrestling style and Ferreira was happy to oblige on the ground. The first round was filled fast-paced grappling and scrambles galore:
However, it was the Brazilian who appeared to have the upper hand. He ended the first round in top position and raining down elbows on The Gift.
Gillespie showed his resiliency in the second frame, though. Continuing to push the pace and going to battle with his counterpart. The pace paid off as he was able to take Ferreira's back, flatten him out and throw strikes until he forced the finish.
This was the first time in the Octagon for him since losing his first fight to Kevin Lee. His grappling and toughness are going to make him a tough out for anyone.
Phil Hawes def. Kyle Daukaus
Phil Hawes opened the main card with his most complete performance of his UFC run to date.
The 32-year-old has shown he can finish fights early before and he survived his way to a majority decision win after gassing out in his last bout. But against Kyle Daukaus, he put everything together for three rounds scoring a decisive decision win.
Hawes came out and had a great first round and it looked like he might be in trouble in the second:
Instead of wavering though, he came back from the rocky start in the second frame and put an exclamation point in the third round, posting a one-sided round worthy of a 10-8 score.
With a 3-0 start to his UFC career, Hawes can be expected to get a step up in competition next time out.