Fight Study (10/9/21)
The UFC’s strawweight division falls under the spotlight when the division’s 6th ranked contender, Marina Rodriguez, takes on the 4th ranked contender, Mackenzie Dern, in a fight that will put the winner on the fast track to a title fight. Both fighters are on win streaks with Dern coming into this bout as the betting favorite. She is also the more expensive DFS play and can be entered into lineups for $8,200 on DraftKings and $20 on Fanduel. Rodriguez is available for $8,000 and $18 respectively. As the Main Event, this fight is scheduled for 5 rounds of MMA action, but current odds point toward an earlier conclusion as this fight is a -340 favorite to end before reaching the judges’ scorecards.
Rodriguez has a professional record of 14-1-2 with 6 wins by KO/TKO, 1 win by submission, and 7 wins by decision. She suffered her only career loss by split decision to Carla Esparza in July of last year. Since then, she has put together consecutive wins over Amanda Ribas and Michelle Waterson. She has some of the best striking in the division and should have the upper hand in an upright fight with Dern. She will have the advantage in both height and reach on Saturday with a 2-inch edge in both metrics. However, on the ground, she will be at a significant disadvantage in this contest. She will need to keep this fight at distance and avoid grappling at all costs.
Dern has a record of 11-1 overall with 7 wins by submission and 4 wins by decision. She suffered her lone defeat at the hands of Ribas – a fighter Rodriguez finished by second-round TKO. Dern is a jiu-jitsu black belt and is a former world champion in that discipline. Her record makes it very clear that she performs best when she can put her grappling skills to use. She has yet to win a fight by KO/TKO but has won the majority of her fights by submission. Given her disadvantage in striking in this fight, her game plan figures to focus heavily on changing levels and taking this fight to the mat.
This fight is one of contrasting styles. If this fight remains upright, Rodriguez will have the advantage. On the ground, Dern will have the decided edge there. Over the 5-round contest, it figures that one or the other will eventually assert their edge on their preferred level. If Dern can get this fight to the ground with enough time to work with, her chances at a submission are very good. Rodriguez’s only loss shows how she is susceptible to a high-level grappler, but Dern will not be able to execute takedowns the way Esparza can. Esparza is a world-class wrestler, and Rodriguez should have much better success at keeping this fight upright. If she can keep this fight a kickboxing affair, I believe she will win this one easily. Dern’s ability to change levels will be the deciding factor.
I believe that Dern will struggle to get this fight on the ground where she will need it to be to have a good chance at victory. For this reason, I believe an upset is very likely. If Dern gets this fight on the ground, she most certainly has the skills to submit Rodriguez, but the longer Rodriguez can keep this fight upright, the more Dern’s chances will dwindle. In later rounds, submissions become harder to finish as fatigue sets in and as fighters become harder to hold as their sweat makes them more slippery. In a 5-round contest, Rodriguez’s advantage will grow the longer this fight goes. In multi-entry contests, both fighters deserve exposure but forced to choose I will take Rodriguez to get a stoppage in the later rounds. Still, Dern has world-class submissions and the possibility of a finish for her cannot be overlooked.
That’s all for this edition of Fight Study. Good luck with your lineups! For more advice on DFS contests for MMA, click HERE.