Marina Rodriguez expects UFC 281 title fight winner ‘no matter how’ she beats Amanda Lemos

LAS VEGAS – Marina Rodriguez admits the matchmaking for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 214 main event with Amanda Lemos “doesn’t make a lot of sense” based on the rankings, but she’s confident in what a win will do for her career.

With just one loss in her past eight fights, Rodriguez (17-1-2 MMA, 6-1-2 UFC) was hoping for a strawweight title shot, or at least a booking with a former champion like Rose Namajunas. She got neither, though, and meets surging fellow Brazilian contender Lemos (12-2-1 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in the headlining act at the UFC Apex, which streams on ESPN+.

The bout takes place just one week prior to the next 115-pound title fight between Carla Esparza and Zhang Weili at UFC 281 in New York, and everything seems perfectly in line for the winners to clash. Rodriguez agrees, so while the opponent wasn’t what she wanted, the stakes don’t get much higher.

“I’m very confident that I defeat Amanda, no matter how, I’m going to be the next challenger,” Rodriguez told MMA Junkie and other reporters through an interpreter at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 214 media day. “If everything goes perfectly I’m going to be there to see this fight.”

Rodriguez said if there’s anyone who doubts her, she’ll convince them otherwise in the cage with Lemos. She sees it being an all-action fight, and would be surprised if both women don’t leave with an additional $50,000 bonus.

“I know she’s really tough,” Rodriguez said. “She’s got good victories – she’s got really good victories in the UFC. But we are both aggressive strikers, so I’m 100 percent confident that our fight has everything to be Fight of the Night.”

If Rodriguez’s plans go as she hopes, there will be a cageside seat reserved with her name at UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden in New York. She thinks the challenge Weili (22-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) has a good chance of reclaiming the belt, but won’t count out Esparza (19-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC) – who is the only fighter to beat Rodriguez in MMA – from winning.

“It looks like Weili,” Rodriguez said. “She’s well-rounded as a fighter, but it’s MMA. There’s a surprise effect in every fight, like when Carla defeated Rose. But for me, to be honest, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is I’m going to be there. I’m going to be ready.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 214.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie