Marina Rodriguez took a unanimous decision from Mackenzie Dern in a classic striker vs. grappler matchup to end UFC Fight Night 194 from the UFC's Apex facility in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Dern got off to a slow start in the first round. She was unable to get the fight to the ground and spent much of the round hanging on to the clinch without doing much. In the few striking exchanges that happened, Rodriguez was clearly her superior.
In the second round, we got some action in Dern's world. A failed takedown attempt saw Rodriguez land on top, but Dern was quick to turn the tables. She threatened with a choke before ultimately taking her back and working to mount.
The divide between the two fighters' skill sets was on display again in the third. With Dern stuck fighting on the feet, it was a definite Rodriguez round:
The fourth round was more of the same with the exception of the final 20 seconds when Dern created a scramble that saw her wind up in mount. She didn't have enough time to do much with it, as Rodriguez continued to win the fight.
Rodriguez avoided getting put in any dangerous positions in the fifth and final round as she put the icing on an impressive performance.
With the win, Rodriguez now has three wins in a row and has only lost one fight since joining the UFC roster in September 2018.
Here's a look at the rest of the results from the night and a closer look at the main card action.
- Marina Rodriguez def. Mackenzie Dern via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46).
- Randy Brown def. Jared Gooden via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
- Matheus Nicolau def. Tim Elliott via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
- Mariya Agapova def. Sabina Mazo via submission (rear-naked choke), 0:53 of Round 3.
- Chris Gutierrez defeats Felipe Colares via split decision (30-27, 30-27, 28-29).
- Alexandr Romanov def Jared Vanderaa via TKO, 4:43 of Round 2.
- Damon Jackson def. Charles Rosa via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27).
- Loopy Godinez def. Silvana Gomez Juarez via submission (armbar), 4:14 of Round 1.
- Steve Garcia def. Charlie Ontiveros via TKO, 1:51 of Round 2.
Randy Brown def. Jared Gooden
Even an apparent toe injury couldn't stop Randy Brown from outclassing Jared Gooden on the feet for three rounds in a unanimous-decision win.
Early in the fight, Brown appeared to hurt his toe while also landing a highlight-worthy front kick.
It didn't matter, though. Brown looked dangerously comfortable in the cage against Gooden. He lived in a perfect striking range that allowed him to pick Gooden apart while dodging the most serious counterattacks.
Brown has flashed this potential before, but this was a good reminder of how fun he can be. He did a great job of mixing up his strikes, even getting in some leg kicks, which has been rare at times.
With back-to-back wins, he is starting to build the momentum back that he lost in a knockout loss to Vicente Luque.
Matheus Nicolau def. Tim Elliott
Tim Elliott has proved to be a tricky out for more than one aspiring prospect looking to rise through the rankings. His combination of underrated wrestling and scrappy striking has been too much for the likes of Mark De La Rosa, Ryan Benoit and Jordan Espinosa.
Don't count Matheus Nicolau among them.
Nicolau handled everything Elliott had to offer through three rounds to take a unanimous decision. Nicolau's takedown defense was particularly impressive as he rebuffed nine of the veteran's 10 attempts to get the fight to the ground.
The 28-year-old converted his only takedown attempt on the fight and was the much more active fighter in the striking game.
A win over Elliott isn't enough to buy into Nicolau just yet. It's more of Step 1 toward legitimacy in the division than a fight that will launch him into the top 15.
However, Nicolau deserves that kind of fight after navigating this one.
Mariya Agapova def. Sabina Mazo
Mariya Agapova returned to her violent ways against Sabina Mazo. Coming off her first loss in the Octagon against Shana Dobson, she outclassed Mazo on the way to a third-round submission win.
The victory really had little to do with her submission game and more to do with some sharp striking that had her a step ahead of Mazo throughout the fight. Agapova showed off her kickboxing skills, setting the pace of the fight and landing consistently.
Mazo was just far less efficient than her opponent, as she didn't throw nearly as often and still landed a far lower percentage of her strikes. The difference finally became too much in the third round when Agapova landed a devastating right hook that floored Mazo.
She wasted no time in jumping on the rear-naked choke and getting the tap.
If Agapova can continue to fight with this kind of measured violence, she could develop into a true threat in the division.
Chris Gutierrez def. Felipe Colares
Chris Gutierrez and Felipe Colares got the main card started with a fun scrap. The bout wasn't as close as the split-decision verdict will show. Gutierrez took the fight 30-27 on two cards, but one judge gave Colares two rounds.
Looking at the stats in this one, it's difficult to find two rounds for Colares, even if he put forth a valiant effort.
Gutierrez more than doubles Colares' significant strikes, per ESPN's FightCenter. The 30-year-old was particularly strong in closing out the rounds on a high note, leaving no doubt as to who the winner of each period should have been.
Ultimately, he picked up the win and now has a six-fight unbeaten streak. A draw against Cody Durden is the only non-win in his recent bouts. It might be time for a step up in competition for him.