UFC Fight Night 197: Holloway vs. Rodriguez Odds, Schedule, Predictions
Fan-favorite former featherweight champion Max "Blessed" Holloway returns to the Octagon on Saturday night to face Yair Rodriguez in the headliner for UFC Fight Night 197 from the Apex Facility in Las Vegas.
On January, Holloway found a bounce-back win against Calvin Kattar in his first non-title fight since 2016. The 29-year-old had lost three of his past four fights at that point but is doing the work to re-establish himself as a contender in the division.
While Holloway hasn't been in the cage for 11 months, Rodriguez has been out for even longer. A series of injuries and a suspension for failing to notify the United States Anti-Doping Agency of his whereabouts means he last fought more than two years ago.
The last time we saw him, he scored a unanimous decision over Jeremy Stephens and he's lost just once since joining the UFC in 2014. This fight represents his best shot to launch himself into the contending tier of the division.
It's a fun matchup that not only carries the highest stakes on the night but should contend for Fight of the Night honors. Here's a rundown of the whole card and a closer look at the biggest matchups.
Fight Card, Schedule and Odds—November 13
Main card (ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET)
- Max Holloway -720 (bet $720 to win $100) vs. Yair Rodriguez +500 ($100 bet wins $500)
- Ben Rothwell -160 vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima +140
- Felicia Spencer -310 vs. Leah Letson +245
- Miguel Baeza -140 vs. Khaos Williams +120
- Song Yadong -135 vs. Julio Arce +115
Prelims (ESPN+, 1 p.m. ET)
- Thiago Moises (N/A) vs. Joel Alvarez (N/A)
- Cynthia Calvillo -135 vs. Andrea Lee +115
- Sean Woodson -320 vs. Collin Anglin +250
- Cortney Casey -250 vs. Liana Jojua +200
- Marc Diakiese -200 vs. Rafael Alves +170
- Kennedy Nzechukwu +105 vs. Da Un Jung -125
Odds via DraftKings.
Holloway vs. Rodriguez
The UFC didn't do Rodriguez any favors in pairing him up with Holloway upon his return to the Octagon. Holloway may no longer have the belt, but his win over Kattar showed that his opponents still need to be champion-caliber to beat him.
Holloway is capable of burying his foes in volume, and this fight could play out in much the same way.
Rodriguez is a good striker in his own right, and the exchanges should be fun, but this fight has similar parameters to his bout with "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung in 2018. Jung is also a great volume striker and was on his way to win on the scorecards when Rodriguez stunned him with a knockout elbow in the literal last second of the fight.
The knockout shot was impressive, but relying on it isn't a reliable game plan. Pantera is going to have to figure out how to deal with Holloway's pressure over the course of a five-round fight.
Prediction: Holloway via decision.
Rothwell vs. De Lima
At this point, Ben Rothwell is the old man who hangs out at the YMCA playing pickup ball against college kids. It doesn't look like he should be able to hang, but he just finds a way like a senior citizen hitting skyhook after skyhook in the post.
Case in point, after 52 career fights, his 39th and most recent win came against Chris Barnett, a UFC debutant who showcased his power and agility earlier in November with a spinning-wheel-kick knockout of Gian Villante.
Rothwell choked him out in the second round because that's what he does.
Now he gets a matchup with Marcos Rogerio de Lima, who also possesses knockout power in his hands but has a penchant for getting submitted. He has five tapouts on his record, and Rothwell is adept at finding chokes when his opponents aren't expecting it.
It's a tale that has become quite familiar and will likely play out Saturday if De Lima doesn't score a finish early.
Prediction: Rothwell via second-round submission.
Spencer vs. Letson
The women's featherweight division is notoriously small, and that's a double-edged sword for its combatants. On one hand, if feels like the division could fold at any time. On the other, every fight at 145 pounds carries meaning because there aren't enough contenders for there to be rankings.
So even a fighter like Felicia Spencer, who is on a two-fight skid, still feels in the mix. But that won't be the case if she can't find a way to win against Leah Letson.
The 29-year-old Letson had a successful UFC debut at The Ultimate Fighter 28 finale, defeating Julija Stoliarenko via split decision. In that fight, she stuffed four takedowns and kept the bout standing, where she used great body work to build the lead on the scorecards.
That will have to be her path to victory against Spencer. The Feenom is a true featherweight and uses her size and strength well to close the distance and to force fighters to deal with her grappling.
That's the concern for Letson because Spencer has seen much tougher competition. With fights against Megan Anderson (whom she submitted) as well as Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes on her resume, there isn't anything Letson is bringing to the table that Spencer hasn't already seen.
Prediction: Spencer via second-round submission.
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