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Marina Rodriguez has begun to make serious headway in the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s strawweight division.
The Brazilian muay Thai practitioner outstruck Mackenzie Dern and withstood a few harrowing ground exchanges with the jiu-jitsu ace, as she took a unanimous decision from the 2015 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist in the UFC Fight Night 194 headliner on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. All three cageside judges saw it the same: 49-46 for Rodriguez (15-1-2, 5-1-2 UFC).
Dern (11-2, 6-2 UFC) had her chances. The Checkmat RVCA rep dragged Rodriguez to the canvas in the second round, threatened with a leg lock and moved into side control. From there she applied her ground-and-pound from a reverse crucifix position and advanced to the back. However, the submission Dern needed never materialized. She managed to get Rodriguez back to the mat with roughly 40 seconds left in the fourth round, and though she ended the period in full mount, her last legitimate opportunity at a victory had passed her by.
Rodriguez was the vastly superior striker and knitted together her weapons beautifully, from multi-punch volleys, front kicks to the body and crisp jabs to oblique kicks, knees to the body and standing elbows. Fatigue also played a role in Dern’s demise, as she slowed noticeably in the championship rounds.
Brown Denies Overweight Gooden
Former Ring of Combat champion Randy Brown posted his second win in as many appearances and laid claim to a unanimous decision over Jared Gooden in their three-round welterweight co-main event. All three judges struck 30-27 scorecards for Brown (14-4, 8-4 UFC).
Gooden (18-7, 1-3 UFC) was successful in spurts, especially with leg kicks, but could not get enough done with his hands to spring the upset. Brown did not leave the cage unscathed. He suffered a significant toe injury in the first round when he wobbled Gooden with a front kick under the chin. Brown fought through the pain, fed his opponent a steady diet of jabs and flurried with power punches whenever the situation called for it. The Budokan Martial Arts Academy product increased the frequency and intensity of his attacks in the third round—he incorporated flying knees—but could not get rid of the granite-chinned Gooden, a man who missed weight by three pounds for the match.
The 27-year-old Gooden has lost three of his last four fights.
Resurgent Nicolau Bests Elliott
Nova Uniao representative Matheus Nicolau rode an efficient standup attack and stellar takedown defense to a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 24 winner Tim Elliott in a three-round flyweight attraction. All three cageside judges scored it the same: 29-28 Nicolau (17-2-1, 5-1 UFC).
Elliott (17-12-1, 6-10 UFC) enjoyed a strong start with a takedown and effective use of the clinch. However, the Glory MMA export lost his way in the middle stanza. Nicolaus connected in combination, mixed in sneaky counters and zeroed in on the body with left hooks. Elliott answered with hopping front kicks and a few left hands of his own in Round 3 but conceded a takedown to the Brazilian and remained on his back in closed guard for far too long. By the time he returned to an upright position, it was too late for him to offer much of a response.
Nicolau has rattled off four consecutive victories.
Agapova Choke Submits Mazo
Dana White’s Contender Series alum Mariya Agapova submitted former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion Sabina Mazo with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their women’s flyweight showcase. Mazo (9-3, 3-3 UFC) raised the white flag 53 seconds into Round 3, the unwitting victim of a classic club-and-sub finish.
Agapova (10-2, 2-1 UFC) spent the first 10 minutes picking apart the Kings MMA-trained Colombian with clean combinations and well-timed kicks to the body. Mazo greeted the third round with a sense of urgency, but her forward aggression resulted in her undoing. Agapova connected with a crushing counter right hook that dropped her adversary to all fours and then moved in for the kill, cinching the choke for the quick tapout.
Mazo, 24, has suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in her career.
Surging Gutierrez Outlasts Colares
A probing jab and punishing kicks to the body and legs carried Factory X standout Chris Gutierrez to a split decision over Felipe Dias Colares in a three-round bantamweight attraction. Judge Rick Winter scored it 29-28 for Colares, while Michael Bell and Sal D’Amato saw it 30-27 for Gutierrez.
Neither man gained much separation in a closely contest first round. Gutierrez (17-4-2, 5-1-1 UFC) hit the accelerator from that point forward, as he exploited holes in the former Jungle Fight champion’s game with superior boxing and a consistent barrage of kicks. Colares (10-3, 2-3 UFC) executed a takedown in Round 3 but failed to consolidate his efforts with damage or meaningful control and certainly did not do enough to offset his opponent’s gains in their standup exchanges.
Gutierrez, who owns a 5-0-1 record across his last six outings, has not tasted defeat since Nov. 30, 2018.
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