UFC on ESPN 24: Rodriguez vs. Waterson Preview

Heading into the week, it was hard to know what to expect from UFC’s May 8th “Fight Night” card. However, as the week progressed, the news about it slowly broke out.

We were guaranteed a five-round fight when a bout between Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez was confirmed. Also, the fear of losing Donald Cerrone was eliminated when short-notice opponent Alex Morono stepped in for the co-main event.

Now, it’s a 10-fight card in total. It’s not a perfect card: Notably, an anticipated bantamweight main event between TJ Dillashaw and Cory Sandhagen was ruled out last week. Also, two more bouts dropped off the card after Friday’s weigh-ins. With that being said, it’s still a card, and there’s still lots to discuss before it happens at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

Here is a full preview of the event.

Click here to skip to a preview of the main card.

Preliminary Card (6:00PM EDT / 3:00PM PDT) (ESPN+ / TSN 2)

Bout 1: Christian Aguilera (14-7) vs. Carlston Harris (15-4) (Welterweight)

Carlston Harris will get the start to his UFC career in a fight against Christian Aguilera in the opening bout of the card.

Harris joins the UFC roster after putting together a three-fight win streak on the regional scene. He most recently scored a win early this year, submitting Saygid Izagakhmaev on a collaborative card between UAE Warriors and EFC.

Aguilera will attempt to bounce back from his first UFC loss last year. In what was his second appearance for the promotion, Aguilera was submitted by Sean Brady in August last year.

Bout 2: Tafon Nchukwi (5-0) vs. Jun Yong Park (12-4) (Middleweight)

Both attempting to return following a recent victory, Tafon Nchukwi and Jun Yong Park will compete on the prelims.

Nchukwi won his UFC debut in December, defeating Jamie Pickett via unanimous decision. The performance extended his undefeated record to five wins.

Two months before then, Park won in his return to the cage, defeating John Phillips on scorecards. The fight was his second victory since joining the UFC in 2019.

Bout 3: Mike Trizano (8-1) vs. Ludovit Klein (17-2) (Featherweight)

Riding the momentum of a strong UFC debut last year, Ludovit Klein will face Mike Trizano in a featherweight fight.

Klein entered the UFC in September, stopping Shane Young in the first round of a fight with a head kick. The win was his eighth consecutive when counting fights on the regional scene.

He now fights Trizano, who is returning after nearly two years outside of the cage. The winner in Season 27 of “The Ultimate Fighter” took his first pro loss in his last outing, getting submitted by Grant Dawson.

Bout 4: Phillip Hawes (10-2) vs. Kyle Daukaus (10-1) (Middleweight)

The short preliminary card will wrap up with a middleweight fight between Phillip Hawes and Kyle Daukaus.

Saturday’s fight will be somewhat of a quick turnaround for Hawes, as he scored a majority decision win over Nassourdine Imavov in February. Prior to then, Hawes scored a quick UFC debut win, stopping Jacob Malkoun in just 18 seconds.

Daukaus is riding the momentum of a victory he earned against Dustin Stoltzfus in November.

Main Card (8:00PM EDT / 5:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 2)

Bout 5: Amanda Ribas (10-2) vs. Angela Hill (13-9) (Strawweight)

Amanda Ribas was rapidly gaining momentum last year after stringing together numerous wins in the UFC. The biggest momentum of her short UFC career came in July, where she submitted Paige VanZant within a round at UFC 251. However, the velocity that she gained recently was stopped in January, as Marina Rodriguez finished her in the second round of a bout with punches.

Now, Ribas has the chance to bounce back from her sole UFC loss. That won’t be an easy task for her, as she fights Angela Hill in the opening bout of the main card. Hill is coming off a dominant decision win that she scored against Ashley Yoder in March. The win snapped a two-fight skid which saw Hill on the losing end of two close split decisions.

Bout 6: Diego Ferreira (17-3) vs. Gregor Gillespie (13-1) (Lightweight)

Gregor Gillespie’s undefeated 13-fight MMA run was brutally stopped in late 2019, as Kevin Lee caught him in the first round of a combination of a punch and head kick. Now, over a year later, Gillespie will return against Diego Ferreira.

Ferreira is in a similar spot to Gillespie, as he is competing after a win streak was broken in his last fight. A six-fight win streak for Ferreira came to an end in February, as Beneil Dariush got the split decision nod over him.

Gillespie’s often overlooked UFC record includes six wins, with five coming within the first two rounds.

Ferreira missed weight for the fight on Friday, coming in four-and-a-half pounds over the non-championship limit.

Bout 7: Maurice Greene (9-5) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (17-7-1) (Heavyweight)

Heavyweights Maurice Greene and Marcos Rogerio de Lima will attempt to come back from finish losses on the main card.

Greene was finished in the second round of his last fight, being stopped by Greg Hardy in October.

Rogerio de Lima last appeared in November, where undefeated prospect Alexander Romanov stopped him within a round with a forearm choke.

Bout 8: Neil Magny (24-8) vs. Geoff Neal (13-3) (Welterweight)

In their last appearance, Neil Magny and Geoff Neal were both on the losing end of a UFC main event. However, on Saturday night, one of them will likely bounce back from that.

Magny headlined one of UFC’s first shows of the year, losing a decision to Michael Chiesa. He was being thrown in the main event of the card after a strong 2020, where he earned three wins.

Neal fought at UFC’s last show of 2020, getting defeated by Stephen Thompson on scorecards after five rounds. The fight was Neal’s first main event fight in the UFC, and it was an opportunity given to him after putting together an undefeated five-fight record since joining the promotion.

Bout 9: Donald Cerrone (36-15) vs. Alex Morono (18-7) (Welterweight)

UFC veteran Donald Cerrone will shoot for his first win since 2019 when fighting Alex Morono in the co-main event. Cerrone was originally set to fight Diego Sanchez on the card, although plans changed after Sanchez was released by the promotion.

Cerrone had his four-fight losing streak snapped in September, as he fought to a draw against Niko Price. That fight has since been overturned to a no contest due to a drug test done on Price.

Morono is taking the fight with the goal of getting back into the win column. He last competed in December, losing to now-PFL fighter Anthony Pettis on scorecards.

Bout 10: Marina Rodriguez (13-1-2) vs. Michelle Waterson (18-8) (Flyweight)

Strawweights Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson will compete in a five-round fight in the main event of Saturday’s card. Except, they’re not fighting at strawweight. Due to the short-notice nature of the fight, which was only confirmed mid-fight week, the bout is taking place 10-pounds heavier at flyweight.

The fight on Saturday gives Waterson the chance to earn her second consecutive main event win, and take the third of her UFC career. Her last fight took place in September, where she prevailed over Angela Hill in a close split decision after 25 minutes. Before then, Waterson had losses to credible names in the strawweight division in Carla Esparza and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Rodriguez last fought in January, where she derailed the hype around Amanda Ribas with a second-round stoppage due to strikes. The win was a strong result for Rodriguez after losing a bout and fighting to a draw in her two prior showings.

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