UFC Fight Night Report: Marina Rodriguez defeats Mackenzie Dern by decision

Photo Courtesy: UFC

UFC Fight Night Report: Marina Rodriguez defeats Mackenzie Dern by decision

By: Eric Marcotte 

On Saturday afternoon, the UFC held a Fight Night event from the Apex Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. This particular card was headlined by a bout in the strawweight division, between Mackenzie Dern and Marina Rodriguez. This was very much the traditional striker versus grappler matchup, with Rodriguez being one of the more talented strikers in the division, and Dern unquestionably is one of the most accomplished grapplers throughout the entire sport. Both women were close to championship contention, so this was really an essential fight for the immediate future of both fighters. The co-main event featured Randy Brown facing Jared Gooden in a welterweight matchup.

The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik and Paul Felder. Performance of the Night bonuses went out to Mariya Agapova and Loopy Godinez. Fight of the Night bonuses were awarded to Marina Rodriguez and Mackenzie Dern.


*Steve Garcia def. Charlie Ontiveros by TKO at 1:51 of Round 2

*Loopy Godinez def. Silvana Gomez Juarez by armbar at 4:14 of Round 1

*Damon Jackson def. Charles Rosa by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27)

*Alexandr Romanov def. Jared Vanderaa by TKO at 4:43 of Round 2

*Chris Gutierrez def. Felipe Colares by split decision (30-27, 30-27, 28-29)

*Mariya Agapova def. Sabina Mazo by rear-naked choke at 0:53 of Round 3

*Matheus Nicolau def. Tim Elliott by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Randy Brown def. Jared Gooden by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

*Marina Rodriguez def. Mackenzie Dern by unanimous decision (49-46 all)


Ontiveros rocked badly Garcia with a head kick seconds into the fight, dropping him early. He allowed Garcia to return to his feet and rocked him once again with a hook. After practically being on the verge of defeat three times in the opening minute, Garcia was able to take Ontiveros to the ground, where he looked to shift the momentum of the fight. Garcia seemed to have recovered and had little difficulties controlling Ontiveros on the ground for the remaining four minutes. Garcia cut Ontiveros open with elbows before the round ended. 10-9 Ontiveros.

Garcia cracked Ontiveros with a looping left hand to begin round two but was nearly knocked down yet again when Ontiveros returned fire. Still, Garcia was able to take him down once more, and this time he quickly secured top mount. Garcia threw down ground and pound shots from this position until the fight was eventually stopped.

WINNER: Steve Garcia by TKO at 1:51 of Round 2

This was a wild fight while it lasted. Ontiveros clearly had some serious power on the feet, rocking Garcia every time he landed, but the gap in wrestling ability was huge, and that allowed Garcia to largely dominate this fight despite nearly getting finished multiple times. In his post-fight interview, he thanked the UFC for believing in freedom. Garcia is now 1-1 in the promotion following this win.


Godinez took Gomez Juarez down in the opening minute and attempted to take her back as Gomez Juarez worked her way up along the cage. This resulted in a lengthy battle against the cage, which ultimately resulted in the fighters separating with two minutes remaining. Godinez took her opponent back down, and this time she was able to take her back properly. She threatened a rear-naked choke before switching to an armbar as Gomez Juarez attempted to turn out of it, and was able to secure the submission.

WINNER: Loopy Godinez by armbar at 4:14 of Round 1

Godinez was a sizeable favorite coming into this bout, and the fight played out just as the odds suggested. Gomez Juarez had no answers for Godinez on the ground, allowing Godinez to pick up her first submission victory here in a fairly quick fashion. Godinez did not give the best account of her abilities in her UFC debut against Jessica Penne (although I still scored that fight in her favor), but this was certainly a much stronger performance, and as a result, Godinez walked away with her first UFC win here.

CHARLES ROSA (14-5, 145.5) VS DAMON JACKSON (18-4-1, 1 NC, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Rosa was able to defend Jackson’s first takedown attempt of the fight before the fight was paused due to a low blow from Rosa. Jackson connected with a head kick as the action resumed, and he seemed a step ahead on the feet early. Rosa did find success throughout the round with calf kicks, but they were not enough to earn him this opening round. Jackson secured a takedown late in the round, and landed a number of strong ground and pound shots before time expired. 10-9 Jackson.

There was a wild scramble in the opening minute of round two that resulted in Jackson taking positional control against the cage. As the round progressed, Jackson began to secure more dominant positions, and Rosa was unable to do much offensively. In the final minute, Jackson took the back of Rosa, locked in a body triangle, and started to throw down ground and pound as he postured up. Rosa made it out of the round, but this was another one for Jackson. 20-18 Jackson.

Seconds into round three, Rosa landed a spinning elbow that cut Jackson open, and just had Jackson pouring blood like you’ve never seen. Jackson was able to secure a takedown during this exchange and kept him down for about a minute, but the doctor was brought in to check on Jackson’s cut the second Rosa got back to his feet. The doctor determined that Jackson could continue, and he quickly secured another takedown as the action resumed. Rosa transitioned into top position, and he almost had Jackson trapped in an inverted crucifix, but Jackson escaped and ended the round on top. 29-28 Jackson.

WINNER: Damon Jackson by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27)

The cut Jackson sustained in round three resulted in perhaps the most blood spilled in the octagon in recent memory. Remarkably, the fight continued, and he gave a good account of himself for the remainder of the round, but what was looking like a fairly easy win for Jackson to that point, was certainly put in jeopardy throughout that final round. Jackson is now 2-1 in the UFC.


Romanov was repeatedly warned for grabbing the fence early but secured a takedown regardless. Vanderaa climbed back to his feet, however, Romanov just slammed him right back to the ground, a sequence that repeated itself a few times throughout this round. They finally broke apart with a minute remaining, and as time began to wind down in the round, the fighters started trading wildly, resulting in a fun end to the round. 10-9 Romanov.

Romanov tripped Vanderaa down to begin round two. He moved into top mount, and dropped some short elbows that cut Vanderaa open, before posturing up and throwing down some stronger ground and pound blows. There were numerous times throughout this round in which the fight was close to being stopped, and finally, with less than thirty seconds remaining in the round, referee Mark Smith had seen enough and stopped the fight.

WINNER: Alexandr Romanov by TKO at 4:43 of Round 2

Romanov has largely dominated all of his opponents thus far into his UFC run, and after a close one against Juan Espino, it was back to form here for Romanov. His ground and pound is brutal, and his grappling is definitely a step ahead of the average heavyweight competitor. Romanov is on one of the longest winning streaks at heavyweight right now, and I think it’s time to test him against ranked opposition.


Gutierrez landed the first big shot of the fight, a spinning back kick to the body. Colares began to press forward and tagged Gutierrez a few times on the feet before shooting for a takedown. Gutierrez defended the attempt, resulting in about a minute spent wrestling against the cage. Gutierrez connected with an uppercut before looking for a takedown of his own, but the attempt was defended. Tough round to score. 10-9 Colares.

Gutierrez was a bit more active to begin round two. He caught Colares with a sharp counter right as Colares pressed forward, and was generally fighting well on the backfoot. Much like the first round, I didn’t feel as though one fighter was clearly pulling away with this one, but it seemed to me as though Gutierrez was landing the betters shots, and I had it tied at 19-19 going into the final round.

Gutierrez had doubled Colares up on the significant strike count by the midway point of round three. It felt as though Gutierrez was pulling ahead, but with two minutes remaining, Colares was finally able to take Gutierrez down, where he began to work from his guard. He wasn’t able to do much with this control time, however, and Gutierrez got back to his feet and went on the attack in the final seconds of the round. 29-28 Gutierrez.

WINNER: Chris Gutierrez by split decision (30-27, 30-27, 28-29)

It was not as though this fight was uncompetitive, but the scorecard for Colares was a bit out there in my opinion. Regardless, this was a fight that certainly got better as it progressed, and Gutierrez really turned it on in the final round. If he fought with that aggression from the beginning, perhaps he would have finished the fight, but he ultimately got his arm raised here, so it doesn’t really matter in the end. After losing in his UFC debut, Gutierrez has gone unbeaten throughout his last six bouts, which is an impressive feat at bantamweight.


Agapova was landing strong strikes as she circled the cage early, including a big left hand that backed Mazo up a bit. There were some heavy exchanges against the cage, with Agapova seemingly landing a bit harder. Agapova landed a straight right that knocked Mazo’s head back, which Mazo responded to with a body kick. This was a good opening round from Agapova. 10-9 Agapova.

Agapova naturally felt no need to switch up her strategy, as she continued to circle the cage and counter in the second round. Mazo was throwing and missing repeatedly, and just seemed to be a couple of steps behind Agapova on the feet. That being said, Agapova’s output had diminished significantly by this second round, so I would not say this was a dominant round on the level of the first either. 20-18 Agapova.

Less then a minute into round three, Agapova landed a right hand that just sent Mazo crashing to the ground, and she instantly locked in a rear-naked choke, forcing Mazo to submit.

WINNER: Mariya Agapova by rear-naked choke at 0:53 of Round 3

If a finish could ever be classified as both a knockout and a submission, this would be it. Mazo was done from the second that right hand landed, but Agapova practically had that rear-naked choke locked in before Mazo hit the ground. This was a fantastic performance from Agapova, who I was very surprised to see as the betting underdog going into this one. She called out Maryna Moroz in her post-fight interview.

TIM ELLIOTT (17-11-1, 125.5) VS MATHEUS NICOLAU (16-2-1, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT

Elliott, who is always a very unique fighter, was fighting especially strangely to begin this one, with some random screams, and a near illegal soccer kick to a grounded Nicolau. It was effective, and Nicolau seemed uncertain as to what to do in response. Elliott took Nicolau down near the cage, but was unable to keep Nicolau down for long. Regardless, this was a pretty clear round for Elliott. 10-9 Elliott.

Nicolau tagged Elliott with a solid combination early in round two. Nicolau was doing some better work on the backfoot throughout this round, countering strongly as Elliott advanced. Eventually, Elliott shot for a takedown, but Nicolau was able to keep it on the feet, and he really started to dig into the body. Both men were taunting a bit, and Nicolau defended a couple more takedowns to end the round. 19-19.

The live odds were about even halfway through this final round. Nicolau took Elliott down, and Elliot wrapped him up with the intent of stalling and getting the referee to stand them up. Felder was very critical of Elliott’s stalling tactics on commentary, and that strategy was indeed unsuccessful in getting a stand-up. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 29-28 in favor of Nicolau.

WINNER: Matheus Nicolau by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

Elliott’s stalling in round three cost him big time here. I thought the third round was razor close before that takedown from Nicolau, and spending the final two minutes with his back to the ground was ultimately the deciding factor in the rounds scoring. Perhaps he thought he was up going into round three, but I (and most) had it 19-19, so just an unfortunate turn of events for Tim Elliott here, who started the fight off very strongly. Nicolau adjusted strongly to Elliott’s style as the fight progressed, and he is deserving of credit for his performance here. In all likelihood, this win will move Nicolau into the division’s top ten.


Gooden missed weight by 3lbs and was fined 20% of his purse.

Gooden took Brown down momentarily in the opening minute, but could not keep him there for any significant amount of time. Brown landed a clean head kick, that Gooden somehow just ate. Brown was certainly landing the better shots throughout this opening round, and he started talking to Gooden at one point. This was a very good round for Randy Brown. 10-9 Brown.

Brown appeared to be having some difficulties with the foot he used to kick Gooden in the head earlier in round one. Gooden’s best attacks were his leg kicks, which were chipping away at the lead leg of Brown. Brown began to move forward, and he was doing significant damage with his right hand as he went on the attack. By the end of the round, the leg kicks from Gooden had really taken their toll on Brown, but Brown still took this round based on his own effective offense. 20-18 Brown.

Brown caught Gooden with a sharp left to begin round three. Brown was quite the showman, taunting while throwing some flashy strikes, but his legs were really bothering him by this point in the fight. Despite that, he was cracking Gooden repeatedly, just lighting him up with right hands and knees to the head. The fight went the distance, and I scored it 30-27 for Randy Brown.

WINNER: Randy Brown by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

Brown has largely looked great throughout his last five fights, and this may have been the best version of him yet. Despite the broken toe, and a lead leg that had just been demolished by leg kicks, Randy Brown won every round of this fight. In fact, he seemed to improve as the fight progressed, really hurting Gooden whenever he advanced. Brown has now won four of his last five bouts, and is rapidly approaching the top fifteen at welterweight.


Not a ton of action throughout the first half of round one. Dern was repeatedly missing with some looping strikes, allowing Rodriguez to comfortably counter. Dern eventually rushed in with a right and shot for a takedown, but the attempt was defended. Rodriguez connected with a kick to the body near the end of the round, as well as a hard right hook. Dern ended the round with a spinning backfist, but ate a body shot in response. 10-9 Rodriguez.

Dern was able to get the fight to her comfort zone early in round two, seizing top position on the ground with four minutes remaining on the clock. Rodriguez attempted a choke off of her back but was unsuccessful, and Dern started hunting for an arm. Derns grappling was something to behold here, trapping Rodriguez’s arm between her legs, while she worked her way to Rodriguez’s back. She transitioned to top mount with a minute remaining, where she began to throw down ground and pound strikes. Rodriguez made it out of the round, but it was a close one for her. 19-19.

Rodriguez began round three aggressively on the feet, with the clear intention of making up ground from that last round. She slapped Dern with a head kick, as well as a right hand that landed clearly. Rodriguez was really lighting Dern up on the feet here, and Dern was landing absolutely nothing in response. Rodriguez dug into the body, before defending a late takedown attempt. 29-28 Rodriguez.

The commentary team speculated that Dern was gassed going into round four, and her body language appeared to reflect that. She was chasing Rodriguez down, but really just walking into strikes more often than not. The body work from Rodriguez continued to impress as well, although she didn’t dig in quite as often as she could have. This was becoming a one-sided fight, but with thirty seconds left in the round, Dern was able to reverse Rodriguez’s forward momentum to take her down and secure full mount. It wasn’t enough to win her the round, but it was a much-needed moment of life. 39-37 Rodriguez.

Dern came out with a ton of aggression to begin the final round. She wasn’t connecting with much, but it was still better than the previous two rounds for her. Rodriguez stumbled Dern slightly with a one-two, and defended a takedown attempt moments later. Dern landed a solid left hand at one point, prompting Rodriguez to respond with a hard right. Dern shot for one last takedown with time running out in the fight, but could not complete it. 49-46 Rodriguez.

WINNER: Marina Rodriguez by unanimous decision (49-46 all)

Round two was a scary one for Rodriguez, but the rest of the fight was all hers. She is a very talented striker and just teed off on Dern for the majority of the fight. Dern’s grappling is unrivaled, but she still has some work to do in regards to her wrestling. Her inability to get Rodriguez down on her own terms hurt her immensely in this fight and is in my mind, the clear improvement that she will need to make to her game to reach that next level as a mixed martial artist. Obviously, her striking isn’t fantastic, but she hits with enough power to make the majority of 115ers hesitant to trade with her, which is enough for now. Marina Rodriguez has been very impressive throughout her UFC run, and this win will move her into the top five of the division. She is a legitimate contender now, and only current and former UFC champions remain in her way. In my opinion, a fight against Joanna Jedrzejczyk would be the perfect next step for Rodriguez.

About Eric Marcotte 189 Articles
A graduate of Laurentian University, Eric reports on Mixed Martial Arts at POST Wrestling.