Strawweight fighters Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson will get the main focus of the MMA world on Saturday night, headlining a UFC “Fight Night” card. Fighting at flyweight due to their fight being made at short notice, Rodriguez and Waterson will be the main event of a nine-fight card from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Follow along throughout the evening for live coverage of the card.
Preliminary Card (6:00PM EDT / 3:00PM PDT) (ESPN+ / TSN 2)
Main Card (8:00PM EDT / 5:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 2)
Bout 9: Marina Rodriguez (13-1-2) vs. Michelle Waterson (18-8) (Flyweight)
Rodriguez Takes Decision Win Over Waterson In First UFC Main Event Appearance
Marina Rodriguez won her first UFC main event on Saturday night, using sharp striking to defeat Michelle Waterson in a five-round performance (48-47, 49-46 & 49-46). The aggressive style of Rodriguez with striking gave her most rounds through 25 minutes for a unanimous decision victory.
The fighters exchanged in back-and-forth striking battles during the entire fight. Rodriguez was able to score with a high volume, advancing frequently and throwing quick flurries of punches.
Rodriguez chased Waterson down for most of the third round, throwing combinations of punches that would land. The fighters would both land hard when in the clinch position.
Rodriguez seemingly had damage to her legs during the fight, being knocked down a couple of times due to low kicks. While the problem seemed visible at points, it did not continue later on in the fight.
Waterson was most successful in the fourth round. She controlled for most of the fourth round, holding half guard against Rodriguez after scoring the only takedown of the fight. Rodriguez went back to pursuing Waterson in the final round, stopping takedown attempts in the process.
The bout between Rodriguez and Waterson was made on short notice after the departure of a bantamweight fight between TJ Dillashaw and Cory Sandhagen. Because of how little time the fighters had to prepare, they competed at flyweight, one weight class above their usual strawweight.
Waterson’s previous fight saw her take a close split decision win over Angela Hill in a five-round fight.
Rodriguez had a notable victory earlier this year, derailing the momentum of Amanda Ribas with a second-round stoppage. Saturday’s bout was the first UFC main event bout for Rodriguez.
Bout 8: Donald Cerrone (36-15) vs. Alex Morono (18-7) (Welterweight)
Short-Notice Opponent Morono Stops Cerrone Within A Round
Alex Morono showed his powerful striking in the co-main event, stopping veteran fighter Donald Cerrone late in the first round with punches. Morono closed in on a finish after stunning Cerrone with strikes. He kept pressing forward with strikes on a hurt Cerrone, continuing until the referee decided to end the fight.
Morono had succeeded in the stand-up before the stoppage, advancing and connecting with clean shots against Cerrone.
Morono took the fight on roughly a week’s notice, stepping in for Diego Sanchez, who has now been released by the UFC. Morono said after the fight that he had “one hard day of training” to prepare for Saturday’s bout. His previous fight was a loss in late 2020 against now-PFL fighter Anthony Pettis.
Cerrone has now been winless through his past six UFC fights. He had a four-fight losing streak broken last year in a draw against Niko Price. That fight was later overturned to a no contest after a drug test to Price detected marijuana.
Bout 7: Neil Magny (24-8) vs. Geoff Neal (13-3) (Welterweight)
Magny Bounces Back With Strong Performance Over Neal
UFC veteran Neil Magny scored another win on Saturday, putting together a strong performance over Geoff Neal (29-28, 29-28 & 30-27). Magny’s strong performance showed his ability to find the right timing for strikes.
Neal would consistently advance on Magny during the fight, although Magny was the much more productive fighter with strikes on his backfoot. Neal’s best work was his ability to clinch with Magny, although he often did not do much with the position.
Magny started to pull ahead in the fight even more once his conditioning became a factor.
“I’m going to use that cardio and conditioning as well,” said Magny, acknowledging his cardio ability in his post-fight interview.
Magny’s success wasn’t just from strikes, as he also scored takedowns in the cage too.
Both fighters were coming back after losing a main event UFC fight recently.
Magny competed on one of UFC’s first events of the year, getting controlled by Michael Chiesa to lose on scorecards.
Neal had a seven-fight win streak broken late last year when he lost a fight to Stephen Thompson.
Bout 6: Maurice Greene (9-5) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (17-7-1) (Heavyweight)
Rogerio de Lima Takes Scorecard Over Greene
Marcos Rogerio de Lima used takedowns and striking on the ground to sweep scorecards against Maurcice Greene on the main card (30-26, 30-26 & 30-27).
Rogerio de Lima was able to win the fight with control on the ground. He consistently scored takedowns and kept Greene on his back from half guard.
The win gave Rogerio de Lima put him back to winning ways after losing a bout to Alexander Romanov last year.
Greene has now lost four of his last five bouts.
Bout 5: Diego Ferreira (17-3) vs. Gregor Gillespie (13-1) (Lightweight)
Gillespie Returns To Win Column With Stoppage Win Over Ferreira
Gregor Gillespie bounced back from his sole pro win in impressive fashion on Saturday, taking Diego Ferreira out of a fight in the second round with ground and pound.
Gillespie put an end to the fight late in the second round, unloading punches while on the back of Ferreira. The finish came after an intense round from Gillespie which saw him keep a fast pace on the ground with wrestling.
Gillespie’s conditioning was a great contributing factor to his victory. While Ferreira saw success early in the fight, Gillespie started to take over and eventually make it a one-sided performance.
Gillespie was competing for the first time since late 2019, where Kevin Lee knocked him out and handed him his first loss. He was undefeated before his loss to Lee.
“Last time I won a fight was two years ago .. Man, that was a special one for me,” said Gillespie in his post-fight interview.
Ferreira was also looking to bounce back from a loss, as his previous outing saw him lose to Beneil Dariush. The fight for Ferreira last year was his first loss after a six-fight win streak.
Part of Ferreira’s fight purse was deducted due to missing weight for the bout on Friday, coming in four-and-a-half pounds of the non-championship lightweight limit.
Bout 4: Phillip Hawes (10-2) vs. Kyle Daukaus (10-1) (Middleweight)
Hawes Gets Third Consecutive UFC Win
Phillip Hawes earned his third consecutive UFC win to kick off the main card, defeating Kyle Daukaus on scorecards (30-26, 30-26 & 29-27).
Hawes improved as the fight went on, heating up in the later rounds with striking on the feet and ground and pound. He was visibly hurt in the second round, although he was able to rebound and get back to succeeding after.
“He rocked me … It kind of woke me up like ‘okay, I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying here,'” said Hawes in his post-fight interview.
Daukaus now has two losses through three fights in the UFC. He had his sole win in the promotion in his previous showing, defeating Dustin Stoltzfus in the fall.
Bout 3: Mike Trizano (8-1) vs. Ludovit Klein (17-2) (Featherweight)
Trizano Takes Decision Over Klein In Return To Action
Mike Trizano had a successful return to action on Saturday, defeating Ludovit Klein via unanimous decision to finish the preliminary card (29-28, 29-28 & 30-27).
The fight was a collision of two styles, as Trizano’s striking skills went against Klein’s wrestling.
Klein’s best ability in the fight was his takedown ability, being able to bring Trizano to the ground in every round of the fight.
Trizano had a strong final round, pressuring Klein with strikes and hurting him for a moment with a combination. He had Klein in trouble late in the round, as he looked for a guillotine choke before the round ran out of time.
Trizano was competing after a near two-year absence from the UFC case. The winner in Season 27 of “The Ultimate Fighter” took his first pro loss in his previous showing, getting submitted by Grant Dawson in 2019.
Klein entered the fight with the momentum of a strong UFC debut last year, scoring a first-round head kick knockout against Shane Young.
Bout 2: Tafon Nchukwi (5-0) vs. Jun Yong Park (12-4) (Middleweight)
Park Hands Nchukwi First Pro Loss In Controlling Performance
Jun Yong Park handed Tafon Nchuwki his first pro loss on the prelims, using a solid jab and control on the ground to win rounds (30-25, 29-26 & 28-28).
Park had a strong start to the fight, connecting with a jab consistently against Nchukwi during their stand-up exchanges. He took the fight to the ground in the second round, attempting submission attempts and keeping Nchukwi on his back.
Nchukwi was put behind significantly in the second round, as he was deducted a point after accidentally striking Park in the groin for the second time.
Park’s best round came late, as he bloodied Nchukwi with ground and point strikes from half guard.
Park now has three consecutive wins in the UFC. His previous appearances saw him prevail over Marc-Andre Barriault and John Phillips.
Nchukwi won his UFC debut late last year, defeating Jamie Pickett via unanimous decision. He was given the UFC call-up after an impressive performance on the 2020 season of “Dana White’s Contender Series.”
Bout 1: Christian Aguilera (14-7) vs. Carlston Harris (15-4) (Welterweight)
First Guyanese UFC Fighter Wins Debut With Anaconda Choke
Capitalizing on a takedown attempt, Carlston Harris put in an anaconda choke that choked Christian Aguilera out in the first round. The win for Harris was his first appearance under the UFC lights.
Aguilera shot for a takedown after Harris had the best of stand-up exchanges on the feet. Harris was quick to put the choke in on the ground, which put Aguilera unconscious before the fight was called off by the referee.
Harris made history in the appearance, becoming the first UFC fighter representing Guyana. He entered the promotion after a three-fight win streak, including a win on collaborative card between notable promotions EFC and UAE Warriors.
Aguilera has now lost two consecutive fights in the UFC. His previous appearance saw him get submitted in the second round of a fight by Sean Brady.
Ribas Tests Positive For COVID-19, Gets Removed From Bout Against Hill
Amanda Ribas was pulled from her strawweight fight against Angela Hill after both she and her father tested positive for COVID-19, per a report from Guilherme Cruz and Damon Martin of MMA Fighting.
It is not known currently if the fight will get moved to another card in the future instead.
Ribas was set to make her return, attempting to come back from her first UFC loss earlier this year. Hill was looking to ride the momentum of a decision victory she earned in March against Ashley Yoder.
The fight was set to kick off the main card on ESPN at 8:00PM EDT.