Marina Rodriguez keeps climbing up the UFC ladder.
The UFC women’s strawweight contender defeated former Invicta FC campion Michelle Waterson on Saturday. Rodriguez (14-1-2 MMA, 4-1-2 UFC) outpointed Waterson (18-9 MMA, 6-5 UFC) in a unanimous decision that read 48-47 and a pair of 49-46 on the three judges’ scorecards.
The women’s flyweight bout was the UFC on ESPN 24 main event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It aired on ESPN following prelims on ESPN+.
It was a tough and gritty fight that had Rodriguez’s power and boxing shine through.
The first two rounds of the fight were fairly even and competitive. Waterson looked to stay on the outside while Rodriguez marched forward. The former Invicta FC did a good job using her kicks to the body and face. Rodriguez appeared to have a similar amount of volume competed to Waterson, but her power was significantly higher, causing the most damage.
In the third round, Rodriguez really took it to Waterson. The Brazilian marched forward and landed heavy combinations all through the round. Waterson attempted to keep Rodriguez at bay with kicks and backward movement, but Rodriguez did a good job at cutting the octagon and connecting hard. Waterson was battered and bloodied at the end of the third.
The tide of the fight turned heavily in the fourth. Rodriguez came out to bully Waterson, but “The Karate Hottie” changed things up and got a takedown early on maintained top position all the way through, staying busy with ground-and-pound and threatening to advance position. Rodriguez was simply unable to get back to her feet, but did a good job at avoiding significant damage.
The fifth and final round showcased the skills of both fighters. Waterson had great kicks to the body and head. However, Rodriguez walked down Waterson and connected well with hard, looping punches. Like the first couple of round, Waterson was live and competitive, but Rodriguez’s power seemed to overshadow her efforts.
Rodriguez now finds herself on a two-fight winning streak having stopped Amanda Ribas in her previous outing back in January at UFC 257. Her only career defeat is to former UFC champion Carla Esparza.
Waterson fell to 1-3 in her past four trips to the cage. Her only win in this recent stretch is a split decision over fellow veteran Angela Hill in September.
Up-to-the-minute UFC on ESPN 24 results include:
Marina Rodriguez def. Michelle Waterson via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46)
Alex Morono def. Donald Cerrone via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:40
Neil Magny def. Geoff Neal via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Marcos Rogerio de Lima def. Maurice Greene via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
Gregor Gillespie def. Diego Ferreira via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:51
Phil Hawes def. Kyle Daukaus via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)
Mike Trizano def. Ludovit Klein via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Jun Yong Park def. Tafon Nchukwi via majority decision (30-25, 29-26, 28-28)
Carlston Harris def. Christian Aguilera via technical submission (anaconda choke) – Round 1, 2:52