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When Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Mackenzie Dern built her full transition into blended martial arts in 2016, the sheer likely of it was intoxicating.
Granted, so a lot of points need to have to go proper for any prospect to entirely notice his or her prospective, but in the case of Dern, her submission grappling is at these kinds of a higher stage, it is really the variety of trump card that can flip a prospect into a contender into a winner.
Five a long time into her skilled occupation, things are heading suitable for Dern. The 28-calendar year-old will experience a 4-fight win streak into her very first UFC key function on Saturday when she meets Marina Rodriguez at UFC Combat Evening inside the Apex in Las Vegas (2 p.m. ET on ESPN+). A earn would solidify Dern as a top-five contender at strawweight, and perhaps even bolster her into the top rated a few.
Every thing seems to be clicking for Dern, who has recorded very first-spherical submissions in a few of her previous 4 appearances. She has made a excellent partnership with head coach Jason Parillo, who has coached a number of previous UFC champions, like BJ Penn, Tito Ortiz, Michael Bisping, Rafael dos Anjos and Luke Rockhold.
Mackenzie Dern and Marina Rodriguez sq. off in a critical battle in between title contenders in the strawweight division. With Rose Namajunas and Zhang Weili set to clash in early November, Dern-Rodriguez could carry main title implications.
UFC Battle Night time: Dern vs. Rodriguez
Saturday, Oct. 9, UFC Apex, Las Vegas
• Main card: 4 p.m. ET on ESPN+
• Prelims: 1 p.m. ET on ESPN+
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She has revealed a excellent deal of maturity and self-control in new a long time, just after early struggles with issues like perform ethic and pounds administration. She has set her targets significant — just this week, she spoke on the risk of an eventual flyweight title combat from Valentina Shevchenko — but she’s also grounded and practical. She’s not in a hurry to acquire a title.
Dern (11-1) faces her hardest examination to date in Rodriguez (14-1-2), a 34-year-aged Brazilian fighter. She is coming off a five-spherical principal event in opposition to Michelle Waterson in May. Rodriguez is a single of the top rated strikers in the division — an place in which Dern is still a function in progress — and she’ll keep a top and access advantage in this matchup.
Rodriguez is the UFC’s No. 6-rated strawweight coming into the weekend, and she’s an intriguing title challenger in her very own right. But there is no concern that this stage is established for Dern to take the subsequent move, to carry on her progress and path towards a opportunity UFC title.
When you transition into MMA with Dern’s variety of qualifications and accomplishments — she’s a multiple-time jiu-jitsu environment winner — people are the anticipations. Not that everybody believed Dern was a shoo-in for a UFC title the moment she place on a pair of MMA gloves, but it also felt like a genuine probability. And it really is feeling additional and much more serious with each and every fight.
Saturday’s fights are on ESPN+, with the key card starting off at 4 p.m. ET and prelims at 1:30 p.m.
Mackenzie Dern has been brief to end the nights of opponents who go to the ground with her. Mike Ehrmann/Zuffa LLC
Figures matchup: 4 vs. 48.9
4: First-round submissions by Dern, the most by a woman in UFC historical past, supplying her an average battle time of 8 minutes, 22 seconds, the 3rd shortest in the heritage of the strawweight division (minimal five fights). Dern attained her 4 submissions employing 3 strategies: rear naked choke, armbar and kneebar. Her kneebar of Hannah Cifers in May 2020 was the to start with leg-lock submission in women’s UFC heritage.
48.9: Percentage of Rodriguez’s major strike attempts that hit their focus on, the 3rd-best accuracy fee between lively UFC strawweights (bare minimum five UFC fights and 350 makes an attempt). Only Angela Hill (50.1%) and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (49.4%) have been additional on the mark.
Sources: ESPN Stats & Information and UFC Stats
And just one much more number of desire …
ESPN Stats & Information and facts
Saturday’s complete struggle card
ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET
Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern vs. Marina Rodriguez
Welterweight: Randy Brown vs. Jared Gooden
Men’s flyweight: Tim Elliott vs. Matheus Nicolau
Women’s flyweight: Sabina Mazo vs. Mariya Agapova
ESPN+, 2 p.m. ET
Men’s bantamweight: Chris Gutierrez vs. Felipe Colares
Heavyweight: Alexandr Romanov vs. Jared Vanderaa
Men’s featherweight: Charles Rosa vs. Damon Jackson
Strawweight: Loopy Godinez vs. Silvana Gomez Juarez
Lightweight: Steve Garcia vs. Charlie Ontiveros
The most effective bet to make is ….
Matheus Nicolau (-190) vs. Tim Elliott (+175)
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Immediately after three straight losses, the seasoned veteran Elliot bounced again in a great way by having back again-to-back victories about Ryan Benoit and Jordan Espinosa. In his most the latest fight, Elliott’s forward pressure with his placing and best sport was far too a great deal for Espinosa to tackle. The place Elliott has struggled is in allowing for takedowns way too simply and currently being way too snug preventing off of his back again. He also has a tendency, because of to his self esteem in his ground video game, to make it possible for himself into compromising positions, which has gotten him in problems.
If he permits Nicolau to dictate the pace and accepts his takedowns, Elliott will be in for a lengthy night. Nicolau confirmed good poise in his previous outing from Manel Kape. He stayed patient and did an fantastic task of mixing his punches and calf kicks. He perplexed Kape, and then, when minimum anticipated, he bought the fight to the flooring. That is the place he is at his very best. I be expecting a very similar game system in opposition to Elliott. I consider Nicolau is the greater striker (velocity, electrical power and performance), and if he can put Elliott on his again, he can stroll absent with an additional earn, introducing a excellent name to his resume. Choose: Matheus Nicolau at -190.
— Ian Parker
How to check out the fights
Enjoy all of the fights on ESPN+. Obtain the ESPN Application
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There is also FightCenter, which presents live updates for just about every UFC card.
4 much more items to know (from ESPN Stats & Details)
1. Randy Brown, who faces Jared Gooden, will be trying to find to turn out to be the 10th welterweight in UFC history with 4 submission victories. Gooden is a finisher, as well, with 14 of them in 18 career wins.
Monday by way of Friday, host Pablo Torre delivers you an inside of search at the most exciting tales at ESPN, as informed by the leading reporters and insiders on the earth. Pay attention
2. Tim Elliott is a familiar face. His fight with Matheus Nicolau will be his 15th battle in the UFC’s flyweight division, which will tie former winner Demetrious Johnson for third most in the division’s background, powering Joseph Benavidez (19) and Jussier Formiga (16).
3. Sabina Mazo lands 6.56 strikes for each minute, the second-very best normal among gals in the UFC, guiding only Joanne Calderwood (6.75). Mazo faces flyweight Mariya Agapova, who has not fought since shedding to Shana Dobson in an August 2020 bout in which Agapova was a -1500 betting most loved — the heaviest odds by a losing most loved in the UFC given that 2007.
4. Heavyweight Alexandr Romanov is 14-, with all finishes (8 KO/TKO, 5 submissions) prior to his most recent outing, a split-final decision victory in April. Romanov faces Jared Vanderaa.
ESPN’s Jeff Wagenheim also contributed to this battle preview.