Gregory Rodrigues strengthened his foothold in the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight division, as he struck down Jun Young Park in the second round of their featured UFC Fight Night 196 prelim on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Park (13-5, 3-2 UFC) bowed out 3:13 into Round 2.
Rodrigues (11-3, 2-0 UFC) dictated the terms of their ground exchanges—he advanced to the back with body triangles on multiple occasions—but flirted with disaster on the feet. Park pinned the former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion to the fence in the second round and let punches fly from both hands. Rodrigues seemed to be wilting but answered with a series of precise right hands, pushed the Korean Top Team standout across the Octagon, flurried along the fence and connected with an uppercut that had him out on his feet. It was enough to prompt referee Jason Herzog to act.
The 29-year-old Rodrigues will ride a four-fight winning streak into his next assignment.
Jones Sinks Prospect Onama
Former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Mason Jones leaned on takedowns, ground-and-pound and a sturdy chin, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision over a game David Onama in a three-round lightweight affair. Jones (11-1, 1-1 UFC) earned 29-28 nods from all three judges.
A short-notice substitution for Alan Patrick, Onama (8-1, 0-1 UFC) made life for his favored adversary far more difficult than most anticipated. The Glory MMA prospect tore into Jones with clubbing power punches to the head and forced him to reconsider his approach at various points in their 15-minute match. The Welshman responded with takedowns and positional control, slowly draining Onama’s gas tank during the second half of the bout. Even on the ground, he struggled to corral the promising James Krause protégé.
The win was Jones’ first in more than a year.
Once-Beaten Ricci Dominates Oliveira
Repeated takedowns and heavy ground-and-pound spurred Tabatha Ricci to a unanimous decision over Parana Vale Tudo export Maria Oliveira in a three-round women’s strawweight scrap. All three cageside judges scored it 30-27 for Ricci (6-1, 1-1 UFC), who bounced back from her June 5 decision defeat to Manon Fiorot.
Oliveira (12-5, 0-1 UFC) enjoyed some success at range but failed to manage distance. Ricci struck for takedowns in all three rounds, often transitioned to dominant positions and assaulted the Rizin Fighting Federation alum with punches and elbows. She did her best work in Round 2, where she climbed to full mount, applied her ground-and-pound and hunted for potential armbars. Though Ricci’s efforts failed to produce a finish, the tone was set.
The setback ended Oliveira’s run of consecutive victories at three.
Pickett Downs One-Dimensional Staropoli
Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Jamie Pickett outstruck and outmaneuvered Laureano Staropoli to a unanimous decision in a three-round middleweight battle. Pickett (12-6, 1-2 UFC) curried favor on all three scorecards: 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Staropoli (9-5, 2-4 UFC) pursued the clinch with admirable persistence but did not get much done at close range. Pickett kept his head above water with knees to the body and excelled in open space, where his 8.5-inch reach advantage was more of a factor. He executed a trip takedown early in the third round, pressed forward with punches when the two men returned to their feet and uncorked a late flurry to punctuate his efforts.
The 28-year-old Staropoli has lost four fights in a row.
Herbert Volley Waylays Worthy
Former Cage Warriors Fighting Championships titleholder Jai Herbert cut down Khama Worthy with punches in the first round of their lightweight confrontation. Worthy (16-9, 2-3 UFC) succumbed to blows 2:47 into Round 1, as the Syndicate MMA rep suffered his third straight setback.
Herbert (11-3, 1-2 UFC) tested the waters with a few leg and body kicks, then went to work. A partially blocked head kick triggered a violent burst of punches that staggered Worthy and forced him backward. Herbert let punches fly with both hands, snapped back his opponent’s head with a right uppercut and floored him with winging hooks. The Team Renegade product swooped into top position, offered Worthy no refuge and unleashed a series of unanswered right hands to prompt the stoppage.
The victory halted Herbert’s two-fight losing streak.
Molina Dismisses Newcomer Lacerda
Glory MMA prospect Jeff Molina put away organizational newcomer Daniel Lacerda with punches in the second round of their flyweight encounter. The promising 24-year-old Molina (10-2, 2-0 UFC) brought it to a decisive close 46 seconds into Round 2.
Lacerda (11-2, 0-1 UFC) threw everything at Molina inside the hectic first five minutes, from a rear-naked choke and a triangle choke to an omoplata and a pair of armbars. Nothing stuck. Early in the middle stanza, Molina answered a kick with a devastating counter right hand. The impact sat down Lacerda and left him vulnerable to follow-up attacks. Molina pounced with punches, climbed to full mount, forced the Brazilian to surrender his back and cut loose with unanswered blows until the job was done.
Molina has rattled off nine consecutive victories.
Markos Outhustles Reeling Souza
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 20 semifinalist Randa Markos closed the book on a four-fight losing streak with a unanimous decision over Livinha Souza in a three-round women’s strawweight clash. Markos (11-11-1, 7-10-1) swept the scorecards with 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 marks from the cageside judges.
Souza (14-4, 3-3 UFC) had her chance and missed it, as she nearly submitted the Michigan Top Team rep with a rear-naked choke in the first round. The former Invicta Fighting Championships titleholder’s situation rapidly deteriorated from there. Markos tuned up the Brazilian with power punches on the feet, hammered her in the clinch and piled up points with positional control and ground-and-pound whenever the action spilled onto the canvas.
The win was Markos’ first since Oct. 26, 2019.
Martinez Handles Undefeated Lazishvili
Factory X standout Jonathan Martinez rebounded from his March 13 knockout loss to Davey Grant with a unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Zviad Lazishvili in a three-round bantamweight pairing. All three cageside judges scored it for Martinez (14-4, 5-3 UFC): 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
A short-notice replacement for Aaron Phillips, Lazishvili (8-1, 0-1 UFC) tried and fail to get his takedown game in gear. Martinez flexed his superiority in the standup exchanges, as he pelted the former Legacy Fighting Alliance champion with crisp jabs, leg kicks, standing elbows, front kicks to the body and accurate combinations.
Martinez, 27, has won three of his last four bouts.