Striking specialist Marina Rodriguez might be looking to surprise MMA fans next Saturday. Paired up against Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Mackenzie Dern for UFC Vegas 39’s main event, the strawweight contender knows her stand-up is the clear path to victory, but claims it is not the only one.
In an interview with Combate, Marina sang Dern praises on her ground skills, but pointed out how she feels confident to grapple should the fight go to the ground. In fact, despite knowing it may be a long shot, Rodriguez does not rule out picking up what would be a surprising submission win over Mackenzie.
“This is an interesting fight. I had to make some changes during my training camp. It was more challenging. It made me more confident to risk trying some of the stuff I’ve practiced. It’s a clear clash of styles. She has said she only practices enough boxing to take people down. This is what has made this camp such a different one when it comes to risk trying some of the stuff we’ve practiced. I have no problem in going to the ground.”
“I feel well-rounded.” Marina continued. “In MMA, you must be comfortable everywhere. If it goes to the ground, I’ll be comfortable knowing that every single thing we did during camp will matter. I’ll be at ease and, who knows, try a submission. A perfect day for a fighter is landing a hand in the first round. winning by knockout. Or stuffing a takedown and getting a submission. That’s a perfect day. If it’s not so perfect, it may be a hard fight, connecting my strikes and getting the win.”
Should Rodriguez score a win over Dern and make it three in a row, she has clear plans for her next outing. If she does not get an immediate title shot, the Brazilian hopes to at least be one more bout away from the belt.
“I see myself fighting for the belt right after, but this division is a little messy. One might win and the other might ask for a rematch. If I win my fight categorically on Saturday, with a knockout or a submission, it’ll put me really close to the belt. Who knows, I could be in line to be the next challenger.”
In her past outings, Rodriguez (14-1-2) scored wins over both Michelle Waterson and Amanda Ribas, respectively in May and January. Before that, the 34-year-old had suffered her first ever professional loss, a split decision defeat to Carla Esparza, back in July 2020.
Now, Rodriguez is expected to take on Dern at UFC Vegas 39’s main event. The card is scheduled to take place at the UFC Apex, in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 9.