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UFC on ESPN: Overeem vs. Rozenstruik - Predictions and Picks

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
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Published 03 Dec 2019, 02:53 IST
03 Dec 2019, 02:53 IST

#2 Marina Rodriguez vs. Cynthia Calvillo

Cynthia Calvillo could have her hands full with Marina Rodriguez
Cynthia Calvillo could have her hands full with Marina Rodriguez

Another fight that’s been changed, originally this Strawweight tilt would’ve seen Calvillo facing former title challenger Claudia Gadelha, but with the Brazilian sidelined with a hand injury, Rodriguez stepped in around six weeks ago.

The last time we saw Calvillo in action was back in February; she defeated Cortney Casey in a pretty impressive showing for her, as she outstruck ‘Cast Iron’ essentially for three rounds straight.

A venomous boxer, Calvillo is equally dangerous on the ground, but doesn’t always fight to her strengths depending on her opponent. That hasn’t held her back too much as her only loss thus far was to former champ Carla Esparza, but it was notable that she could’ve gone for more takedowns against Casey – whose takedown defense is notoriously poor.

Rodriguez meanwhile is another unbeaten fighter – a draw against the underrated Randa Markos is the only blot on her ledger – and she most recently defeated perennial contender Tecia Torres via decision. The performance was highly impressive, as the Brazilian used her range to avoid Torres’ boxing combinations to work her over with kicks and, later in the fight, on the ground.

This one then is a tricky fight to pick; both women are highly skilled in all areas, and will be bringing a ton of confidence into the Octagon. You’d probably say Calvillo has faced the tougher opponents, but I’m not sure that’s true – Rodriguez’s record is full of questionable opposition on the regional scene, but Torres is the best opponent either woman has taken on.

I think I’m leaning towards Rodriguez here though and it’s for a couple of reasons. Firstly, she’s the rangier fighter – a reach of 67” compared to Calvillo’s 64” – and with Calvillo’s tendency to box rather than kickbox, there’s every chance she can use a similar gameplan to the one she used against Torres to great effect.

Secondly, while Calvillo is a very dangerous grappler – she has four submissions on her record including two in the UFC – she’s shown a tendency not to use that side of her game and most notably against Esparza, she was worryingly happy to lose striking exchanges and still not really look for takedowns.

Add in the fact that Rodriguez is a more than capable grappler in her own right, and even if the Californian does get her down, it could be a wash on the mat.

I could be very wrong here as this is a difficult fight to pick, but I’m siding with the Brazilian to do just enough to win across three rounds.

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The Pick: Rodriguez via unanimous decision

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Modified 21 Dec 2019, 01:13 IST
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