After victories against Amanda Ribas and Michelle Waterson in her last two outings, Marina Rodriguez is confident that a win over Makenzie Dern in the UFC Fight Night 194 main event could be her ticket to a strawweight title shot.
"I have no doubt that an impressive win over Mackenzie via knockout or submission will get me closer to the title,” said Rodriguez, a renowned muay Thai specialist who is also a jiu-jitsu purple belt.
Rodriguez is well aware of the ground credentials of her opponent, a black belt and a multiple time jiu-jitsu world champion. With that in mind, Rodriguez has been training plenty of no-gi jiu-jitsu with black belts Alexandre de Souza and Igor Soares ahead of Saturday’s bout.
"Actually, since I arrived in UFC, they have given me some of the best grapplers of the division. I faced in sequence [Cynthia] Calvillo, [Carla] Esparza and Ribas, so this camp was pretty much the same. A lot of grappling and takedown defense,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez doesn’t hide the fact that her primary game plan is to keep the fight standing against Dern, but she is confident that she can handle herself if the action ends up on the canvas.
"We studied a lot Mackenzie´s game,” Rodriguez said. “Of course, my main goal is keep the distance and use my muay Thai. But if she takes me to the ground, I´m also well trained. I also have jiu-jitsu skills and I´m ready to show in that fight.”
Rodriguez and her head coach, Marcio Malko, arrived in Las Vegas on Sept. 20 to help corner training partner Taila Santos. During that time, they trained at the UFC Performance Institute, at a boxing academy and also in a house they rented.
"We did everything we could to do to ensure a great performance on Saturday,” Rodriguez said.
If Rodriguez is victorious against Dern, she still believes she is behind Carla Esparza in the strawweight queue. However, Rodriguez will be ready to step up if needed.
"My job is to be available to the UFC,” she said. If the girls above me in the rankings are not, I´ll be ready and willing to dispute the belt. If the UFC wants me to do one more fight, no problem too. By the way I would love to get revenge against Carla Esparza.”