A five-round strawweight bout between Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson will serve as the headlining fight for the UFC Vegas 26 (May 8th, 2021) fight card. Today, we briefly look at everything you need to know about Marina Rodriguez – a brilliant athlete who started her MMA career relatively late but is now on the verge of breaking through as a bona fide star.
Who is Marina Rodriguez?
Born in Bage, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil on April 29th, 1987, Marina Alcalde Rodriguez boasts an impressive athletic background. Rodriguez played basketball, soccer, volleyball, and handball as a youth. She gradually drifted away from sports, however, during her time as a graphic designer.
Nevertheless, the change in Rodriguez’s lifestyle, going from an active sporting routine to a sedentary one, eventually resulted in her making a key decision that would lead to a career in combat sports.
Marina Rodriguez was looking to add exercise and physical activity back to her life, as she wasn’t accustomed to the sedentary lifestyle that came with working a regular desk job. She also aimed to lose the weight that she’d gained during her time as a graphic designer.
In 2013, Marina Rodriguez started training in the striking-centric martial art of Muay Thai, which eventually led to her competing in amateur bouts. Rodriguez’s Muay Thai career gained steam and she gradually transitioned to the sport of MMA, making her professional MMA debut in 2015.
By the time she started her MMA career, Marina Rodriguez was around 28 years of age. Although it’s rare for individuals to commence their combat sports careers at a relatively older age and succeed, Rodriguez quickly rose up the ranks in the MMA world.
Marina Rodriguez has been a UFC fighter since 2018
Marina Rodriguez amassed an undefeated professional MMA record of 9-0 from March 2015 to December 2017. Following this, in April 2018, Rodriguez then participated in ‘Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil 2’ and secured a first-round TKO win over Maria de Oliveira Neta. This earned Rodriguez a UFC contract.
Riding high on a tremendous first-round TKO win, Marina Rodriguez made her UFC main roster debut against Randa Markos at UFC Fight Night: Santos vs. Anders (September 2018). The fight ended in a majority draw, but it earned Rodriguez considerable praise for her craftiness and composure against the much more experienced Markos.
In 2019, Marina Rodriguez scored unanimous decision wins over Jessica Aguilar and Tecia Torres before fighting Cynthia Calvillo to a majority draw.
In 2020, Rodriguez suffered the first loss of her MMA career, losing to Carla Esparza via split decision at UFC on ESPN: Whittaker vs. Till. Esparza, a former UFC women’s strawweight champion, was taken to the brink by Rodriguez, with many in the MMA community claiming the judges’ decision could’ve gone either way due to how closely contested the bout was.
This was followed by Marina Rodriguez’s most recent fight, which has also been hailed by many as her best performance to date. Rodriguez fought top-tier prospect Amanda Ribas on the blockbuster UFC 257 (January 2021) fight card. She ended up putting on an outstanding showcase of her skills, defeating Ribas via second-round TKO.
Presently, Marina Rodriguez holds a professional MMA record of 13 wins, 1 loss, and 2 draws. Rodriguez is on the cusp of earning the opportunity to face a top 5-ranked opponent in her next fight, provided that she gets past one of the most disciplined strikers in her division, Michelle Waterson.
The Karate Hottie’s striking is known to pose problems for almost every opponent in the octagon, but Marina Rodriguez is expected to have a size advantage in this fight, which could be the difference-maker in this battle of elite strikers. The 34-year-old Rodriguez is 5'7" tall with a 67-inch reach, whereas the 35-year-old Waterson is 5'3" with a 62-inch reach.
Which fighter do you see emerging victorious at UFC Vegas 26 – Marina Rodriguez or Michelle Waterson? Sound off in the comments.