In a classic grappler-vs.-striker matchup, ADCC world champion and jiu-jitsu ace Dern (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) sees holes in Rodriguez’s ground game that she’s looking to expose when they square off in the main event of the UFC’s Oct. 9 card.
“I think her ground game has a lot to work on,” Dern told MMA Junkie. “I’ve seen her do a couple of elbows from the bottom, but more when the girl is just holding her on the ground. But I’ve seen her get up and giving her back, so I can imagine her camp is going to be a lot of takedown defense and maybe getting up using the cage to get up. I think her striking is so dangerous, but the ground has a lot to work on.”
On the feet, Rodriguez (15-1-2 MMA, 4-1-2 UFC) has been vicious, including a recent knockout of rising star Amanda Ribas. But if there’s been one chink in her armor that has resulted in the one loss and two draws on her resume, it’s been her takedown defense – something Dern has taken notice of when watching her past fights.
“I’ve been looking at all of her fights,” Dern said. “So I wouldn’t say particularly Carla Esparza, but even the fights that were draws, like let’s say with Randa Markos, Carla Esparza, Cynthia Calvillo – basically all her fights in the UFC, even her last one Michelle Waterson. Even though she won the fight, I believe only one round that she lost was the one that Michelle Waterson, who’s more of a striker, took her down. So I think the hole in her game is just the takedowns.
“She had a draw with Cynthia Calvillo. Cynthia did so good, but the rounds that were close is when Cynthia took her to the ground and was on her back near the end of the fight. Randa Markos took her down. It was a draw, too. So once she keeps it standing up, it’s hard. But when I saw all the girls, maybe they didn’t win the fight, but when they really pushed it, most of them were able to take her down.”
Although Dern has shown marked improvements in her striking working with Jason Parillo, she sees no reason not to go to her bread and butter and look to make quick work of Rodriguez on the ground, just like she did against Nina Nunes in her most recent outing.
“I think it’s going to be a first-round submission again this time,” Dern said. “I definitely think I’ve found my way in MMA, kind of found what works for me. And hey, why would I want to stay too much getting punched in the face, taking all this damage, take more time recovering to get back into training when it’s clear that obviously taking it to the ground (works for me)? The girls are still getting better, the level on the ground, but I need to take advantage. That’s my strength, so I think it’s going to be a first-round submission.”