Marina Rodriguez earned a signature triumph against Michelle Waterson in the makeshift UFC on ESPN 24 headliner on Saturday night.
“It was a very good performance. I knew everything was going to be different, so I had to prepare my mind and come in with a different mindset than usual,” Rodriguez said. “I’m pretty happy with the performance. I wish I could have got a knockout, that’s what I came here for. It was still a great win over a great opponent.”
Though she didn’t get the finish, Rodriguez attacked with rapid-fire punching combinations, kicks to various levels and knees and elbows in the clinch against a durable opponent. The Brazilian appeared to have Waterson on the retreat a few times, but “The Karate Hottie” remained competitive for a full 25 minutes.
“I knew she was going to be very tough,” Rodriguez said. “I was able to hit her with some good punches. There was one hook where I thought the referee was going to stop it. She’s very tough. You can’t take that away from her.”
Waterson’s best moment came in Round 4, when she executed a takedown and spent the better part of three minutes in top position, battering Rodriguez with punches and elbows from above. The Jackson-Wink MMA representative couldn’t author a repeat of that effort in the final frame, as Rodriguez’s takedown defense held up down the stretch.
“She was able to get me down and she has very good top control. I tried to get out, but knew I had won the first three rounds,” Rodriguez said. “I knew I had the win in my hands. I just had to make sure I didn’t do anything that would risk the win.”
Though the short-notice matchup came at 125 pounds and not at strawweight, Rodriguez is nonetheless eyeing some big names at 115 pounds for her next Octagon appearance. And if the muay Thai specialist is somehow able to jump into the title picture, she’ll take that opportunity, as well.
“I’m looking for a top opponent,” she said. “There’s Xiaonan Yan versus Carla Esparza coming up. I don’t think it would be the time to do he rematch with Esparza—maybe if one of us gets the title we can do it. If Yan wins, maybe it would be a good fight. Joanna [Jedrzejczyk] is always a fight I’ve been looking at, because it would be a fun fight. A lot of girls say they want to fight for a title, but if the time comes I’m here and ready.”
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