Marina Rodriguez used her striking and footwork to ward off the grappling of Mackenzie Dern in the main event of UFC Vegas 39 Saturday afternoon.
Both fighters were cautious early, but Rodriguez (15-1-2) shook off a dangerous second round in which Dern (11-2-0) almost finished the fight to threaten with an arm-triangle of her own and keep the distance with strikes and kicks the rest of the way to take the unanimous decision win.
Dern valiantly tried to grab a hold in the championship rounds but was reduced to trading strikes.
The judges scored it 49-46, 49-46, and 49-46.
Rodriguez’s third consecutive win likely vaults her into the top 5 and a possible matchup with former champion and No. 3 Carla Esparza.
Rodriguez and Dern earned Fight of the Night, while Lupita Godinez and Mariya Agapova earned performances of the night Each fighter earned a $50,000 USD bonus.
That’s the first time in UFC history that four women earned performance bonuses at an event.
Kenai Andrews checks in with his thoughts on the main event matchups.
In case you missed the prelims:
STEVE GARICA DEF. CHARLIE ONTIVEROS VIA TKO (STRIKES) R2 1:51
LUPITA GODINEZ DEF. SILVANA GOMEZ JUAREZ VIA SUBMISSION (ARMBAR) R1 4:14
DAMON JACKSON DEF. CHARLES ROSA VIA UD (29-28, 29-27 30-27)
ALEXANDER ROMANOV DEF. JARED VANDERAA VIA TKO (PUNCHES) R2 4:43
CHRIS GUTIERREZ VS. FELIPE DIAS COLARES
WINNER: CHRIS GUTIERREZ VIA SD (28-29, 30-27, 30-27)
ANDREWS PREDICTION: CHRIS GUTIERREZ VIA UD
Andrews: Close fight, but Gutierrez outworked Colares in the last round.
SABINA MAZO VS. MARIYA AGAPOVA
WINNER: MARIYA AGAPOVA VIA SUBMISSION (RNC) R3 0:53
ANDREWS PREDICTION: SABINA MAZO VIA UD
Andrews: The finish was impressive, but her interview afterwards stole the show.
#9 TIM ELLIOTT VS. #11 MATHEUS NICOLAU
— UFC (@ufc) October 9, 2021
WINNER: MATHEUS NICOLAU VIA UD (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
ANDREWS PREDICTION: MATHEUS NICOLAU VIA UD
Andrews: The youth of Nicolau overcame the experience of Elliott here.
RANDY BROWN VS. JARED GOODEN
WINNER: RANDY BROWN VIA UD (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
ANDREWS PREDICTION: RANDY BROWN VIA UD
Andrews: Good win for Brown, being able to protect the foot was key.
#4 MACKENZIE DERN VS. #6 MARINA RODRIGUEZ
WINNER: MARINA RODRIGUEZ VIA UD (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
ANDREWS PREDICTION: MACKENZIE DERN VIA SUBMISSION
Andrews: We now know Dern’s striking is not quite good enough but credit Rodriguez’s striking and ground game for the win.
The next event is UFC Fight Night 195, which is scheduled for Saturday Oct. 9, at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Aspen Ladd takes on Norma Dumont in the women’s bantamweight main event.