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Michelle Waterson vs. Marina Rodriguez set as new UFC Vegas 26 main event

UFC Vegas 26 has a new main event after TJ Dillashaw pulled out of his bout against Cory Sandhagen due to injury.

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Michelle Waterson after her fight against Carla Esparza at UFC 249.
Michelle Waterson after her fight against Carla Esparza at UFC 249.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

A week after losing its original main event between bantamweight contenders, Cory Sandhagen and TJ Dillashaw, UFC Vegas 26 is back on track with a now official replacement. Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez have been tapped to serve as the new main event.

The news was first reported by Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports and later confirmed by Ariel Helwani of ESPN, who revealed the fight will be contested at 125 pounds. Both Waterson and Rodriguez are currently ranked at 115 pounds, but due to the short notice nature of the fight, they will move up a weight class.

Waterson returned to the win column last year after earning a split decision win over Angela Hill at UFC on ESPN+ 35. The perennial contender previously dropped two straight decisions to Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Carla Esparza at UFC on ESPN+ 19 and UFC 249 respectively.

After fighting to a majority draw against Cynthia Calvillo and losing a split decision to Esparza, Rodriguez made an emphatic statement in her most recent fight against Amanda Ribas at UFC 257. Rodriguez knocked Ribas out in the second round and earned her first ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus in the promotion.

The co-main event for UFC Vegas 26 has also been changed. Donald Cerrone was expected to meet fellow welterweight veteran Diego Sanchez, but the latter was forced to withdraw—and eventually released from the UFC altogether. Alex Morono has stepped in to replace Sanchez.

According to ESPN Fight Center, tapology.com and UFC.com the current bout order is as follows:

ESPN/ESPN+ MAIN CARD | MAY 8: 8PM/5PM ETPT

12. Marina Rodriguez vs. Michelle Waterson - strawweight

11. Donald Cerrone vs. Alex Morono - welterweight

10. Neil Magny vs. Geoff Neal - welterweight

9. Maurice Greene vs. Marcos Rogério de Lima - heavyweight

8. Diego Ferreira vs. Gregor Gillespie - lightweight

7. Amanda Ribas vs. Angela Hill - strawweight

ESPN/ESPN+ PRELIMS | 5PM/2PM ETPT

6. Ben Rothwell vs. Philipe Lens - heavyweight

5. Phil Hawes vs. Kyle Daukaus - middleweight

4. Mike Trizano vs. L’udovit Klein - featherweight

3. Ryan Benoit vs. Zarrukh Adashev - flyweight

2. Tafon Nchukwi vs. Jun Yong Park - middleweight

  1. Christian Aquilera vs. Carlston Harris - welterweight