UFC Vegas 39 Main Card Predictions: Dern vs. Rodriguez

The UFC had a fun showing this past weekend, with a wild main event that saw a highlight reel knockout.

We keep the action going in the UFC Apex, with an eleven bout fight card, headlined by a ranked Strawweight tilt between Mackenzie Dern and Marina Rodriguez.

Mackenzie Dern vs. Marina Rodriguez (SW)

Mackenzie Dern Doesn't Want To Taste Defeat Again | UFC

Former IBJJF world champion Mackenzie Dern (10-1, 5-1 UFC) picked up two straight wins under the UFC banner before falling to rising star Amanda Ribas. She got back on the right track with four straight victories, including three first-round submissions. Her striking is constantly evolving, as she has a respectable volume and more power than her knockout-less record would suggest. Her crisp Muay Thai fundamentals and distance management keep her competitive on the feet, but she evidently performs at her best on the mat with her jiu-jitsu. Though not the best wrestler, Dern has no problem pulling guard in an attempt to wrangle the fight to the mat. At the end of the day, Dern is as elite as it gets on the mat, with the ability to finish the fight against even the most well-versed competition.

Marina Rodriguez Received New Contract After Helping Save UFC on ESPN 24  Main Event

An appearance on the Contender Series brought Marina Rodriguez (14-1-2, 4-1-2 UFC) to the big show, where she slightly underperformed with a draw against Randa Markos. Her most recent outing saw a significantly more dominant performance, as she knocked out highly venerated prospect Amanda Ribas. Two decisions saw her successfully able to work past the wrestling of Tecia Torres and utilize her height and reach to get ahead on the scorecards. However, the dominant top control of Carla Esparza proved too much, as she dropped a split decision to the former champ. Rodriguez is a lanky Muay Thai striker who looks to find her range and then tee off in the clinch and with her composed long strikes. She does not want any part of the ground game and seeks to keep the fight standing with her 59% takedown defense rate. She is most ineffective when positioned on her back and able to be controlled, as her clinch game is her most effective takedown defense.

This is just about as pure of a striker vs. grappler matchup as you will get in the UFC. Rodriguez is as technical as they come on the feet, with the finishing power to back it up. Dern is similarly world class on the mat, with the submission threat a reality whenever engaged with her on the floor. Rodriguez has the Muay Thai technique to pick apart Dern, but her consistent weakness has been her takedown defense. Even in her last outing with Michelle Waterson, she gave up rounds whenever Waterson felt the urge to bring the fight to the ground. Dern will wats Eno time in that regard, so I expect a quick submission.

My Pick: Mackenzie Dern via Submission

Randy Brown vs. Jared Gooden (WW)

Randy Brown (13-4, 7-4 UFC) is a threat to any UFC competitor, rounding out his gameplay to tango in any area with his opponent. “Rude Boy” has six wins by knockout and four in submission and is no doubt a threat at all spots. He uses his 6’3″ frame to hold the distance that he prefers while firing off kicks and his long straights, also utilizing a draining clinch game. His grappling is primarily defensive, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t high level, as he recently choked out Warlley Alves. Though he fell to Vincente Luque by knockout in his following outing, he returned to form with a first round submission over Alex Oliveira that saw him net a “Performance of the Night” bonus.

A short notice debut opposite Dwight Grant (that eventually got cancelled) brought Jared Gooden (18-6, 1-2 UFC) to the UFC. He lost his first two bouts to Alan Jouban and Abubakar Nurmagomedov by decision, but got back on track with a highlight reel KO of Niklas Stolze that took barely a minute for Gooden to score. “NiteTrain” has a well-versed style including fourteen career finishes, split 8/6 between knockouts and submissions. His UFC tenure has shown his as someone willing to throw down on either the feet or the mat, though his defense in both arenas could use some improvement.

I expect that we have a fun fight ahead of us in our co-main between two fighters who love to chase the finish. Brown has looked stellar as of late, and his one arm rear naked choke over Oliveira is a underrated contender for Submission of the Year, in my opinion. Brown is certain ly the more technical fighter, but Gooden brings in ferocious knockout power, as well as an unrelenting spirit, something not be discredited. I think that the differential in this fight comes down to Brown’s range management, as he will be able to pick apart GOoden unless he seriously turns up his aggression. I expect we have a wildx fight to look forward, but I see Brown finishing the fight after taking it to the mat.

My Pick: Randy Brown via Submission

Tim Elliott vs. Matheus Nicolau (FLW)

My Pick: Matheus Nicolau via Submission

Sabina Mazo vs. Mariya Agapova (FLW)

My Pick: Sabina Mazo via Decision

Phil Hawes vs. Deron Winn (MW)

My pick: Phil Hawes via Knockout

The fight card kicks off with an early start time, with the prelims kicking off at 1 PM EST and the main card at 4!

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