The UFC remains in the APEX facility this weekend for UFC Vegas 64. On tap is another main event that centers on the strawweights. This time around it’s Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Lemos hoping to jump out ahead of a crowded pack and put their name forwards for the shot at the winner of Esparza vs. Zhang.
The co-main event for this one is Neil Magny versus Daniel Rodriguez, who is getting a quick turnaround from his fight against Li Jingliang last month.
And our staff are mostly on the side of both fighters with the last name Rodriguez. All but one staff member is picking Marina and we are unanimous in support for Daniel (which means he might be on the wrong end of the BE curse). The only other fighter to get picked unanimously was Miranda Maverick, who faces Shana Young (who needed three attempts on the scales today).
Check out all our picks below and don’t forget to add your own in the comments.
*Reminder: I’m making my picks based solely on fighter’s past winning percentages as an experiment to see how effective that nugget of data is at predicting fight outcomes. More on that here. You can see the data here. This method of picking fights is currently 49-34. Once 1,000 fights have been logged like this, we’ll take a look at what it all might mean.
Zane Simon: A quality matchup for both women. Rodriguez really is at her best fighting from distance or all the way in the clinch. She’s an exceptionally scrappy fighter in the middle range with great cardio, a good chin, and high output, but she can be caught hard there. That should make for a dynamic fight early with Lemos, since she has great timing, accuracy, and hits like a truck. If Rodriguez looks to open the bout on the front foot with lots of pressure, likely she walks onto a couple heavy shots. But then what? As aforementioned, Rodriguez has proven time and again that she’s incredibly tough. The only people that beat her are the ones that can take her down and slow her up. That’s not Lemos’ game. If this is going to be a battle of pace and toughness, I’ll take Rodriguez to win it. Marina Rodriguez by decision.
Tim Bissell: This card might catch from flak for the lack of name value, but I think this main event is genuinely intriguing and could lead to an exciting, frenetic back and forth contest. Both women can be menaces on the feet, with Rodriguez overwhelming with forward pressure and Lemos often coiled and ready to seize on mistakes and finish a fight. I can make an argument for either woman winning this one. The metric is siding with Lemos, because Rodriguez’s winning percentage (.727) suffers from her two draws (versus Cynthia Calvillo and Randa Markos). That itself is a sign that sometimes Rodriguez just doesn’t do enough to to put her stamp on a fight and win with authority. Lemos (.750), on the other other hand, puts it all out there (and that’s why her two defeats are both finishes — a submission to Andrade and a TKO versus Leslie Smith in her UFC debut, where she fought at bantamweight). So if Lemos does win, I see her weathering the storm from Rodriguez and getting her opponent in a enough trouble, either with submission attempts or big counters, that the judges remember those moments the most. Amanda Lemos via decision.
Staff picking Rodriguez: Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Lemos: Bissell
Zane Simon: Okay, I really don’t like seeing everyone here picking against Magny, especially since I’m about to as well, and I want the edge over the rest of you bastards. The truth is as well, that this is an eminently winnable fight for the longtime gatekeeper to the top 10. How does ‘D-Rod’ deal with a jab outside his punching range? How ready is he for a slow, grinding clinch battle after struggling with fitness ahead of his bout against Holland? These are questions we can’t really answer until both men are in the cage, and they could be pivotal. I’m taking a chance on Rodriguez just because his output is so damn high, and because he’s shown a great deftness for heavy counter shots. If he can do for 3 rounds what Max Griffin did for 1 and walk Magny onto bigger punches, then he’s got the tools to win. But I gotta feel like he has to fight a much more perfect bout than the Magny, who we’ve seen frustrate very good fighters standing over and over again for years. Daniel Rodriguez via TKO, round 2.
Tim Bissell: The metric favours Rodriguez here (.875) over Magny (.704). However, I do think that number for D-Rod is a little unfair, since I believe he lost his last bout to Li Jingliang. Even so, I see a big case for Rodriguez coming out of this one with his hand raised. Magny will have the range and motor advantage here (as he usually does), but I think Rodriguez will still find ways to hit him and hurt him. Rodriguez is the current stat leader for strikes landed per minute in the UFC (7.84). He also has the highest striking differential in the welterweight division. I don’t think he’ll style on Magny or finish him. But I do see him getting the better of the exchanges and keeping the fight standing to earn a unanimous decision. Daniel Rodriguez via decision.
Staff picking Magny:
Staff picking Rodriguez: Bissell, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane
Josh Parisian vs. Chase Sherman
Zane Simon: LOL, this fight is going to be an absolute mess. Chase Sherman is faster, a cleaner puncher, and a higher-output, more varied striker. Will that keep him from going toe-to-toe in an absolute 50/50 war, just because he can’t seem to throw two strikes without getting crushed by one in return? Absolutely not. But without a grappling threat, he doesn’t actually tend to fold the way Baudot did. Just hanging in and keeping the fight going should be enough for his athleticism to win out over the distance. Chase Sherman by decision.
Tim Bissell: Chase Sherman has had an up and down career in the UFC resulting in a winning percentage of barely over .300. He’s a great spoiler, though, and has knocked out a number of people as an underdog. Parisian is just 3-2 in the UFC, but that’s enough for the metric to pick him. I’m not that confident in Parisian for this matchup. Sherman lands more and lands harder, so to win this I think Parisian is going to have to fight smart and drag it out over three gruelling (and boring to watch rounds). Josh Parisian via decision.
Staff picking Parisian: Bissell, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie
Staff picking Sherman: Zane
Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Nate Maness
Tim Bissell: We have two flyweights coming off losses to pretty decent opponents here. The metric is going with Maness (.750) over Ulanbekov (.667) here. I don’t like that pick, though. Last time out Maness lost, badly, to Umar Nurmagomedov and he’s gotten an opponent who is coming in with the exact same game-plan. Ulanbekov might not be as talented as Nurmagomedov, but his sambo is probably enough to stifle and defeat Maness. Maness is most dangerous on his feet, so there’s no way Ulanbekov is going to stand with him. If the Dagestani has an off night, or makes a gross miscalculation, Maness will need to still be his best to take him out. Stranger things have happened, though. Nate Maness via TKO.
Zane Simon: First things first: I have nothing but reservations about Nate Maness’ drop to flyweight. If we’re just going by height and reach (not exact metrics I know), Bryce Mitchell is a smaller man than Maness. At the very least he looks like the grim visage of death hitting weight for his new division. Beyond that, however, Maness’ big problem with Nurmagomedov wasn’t one of size, but of range. He’s a fighter built entirely to brawl his way into the pocket and back up his hands with some grinding wrestling as needed. To date, he’s shown almost no tools at all out at distance, and Nurmagomedov chewed him up there. Ulanbekov doesn’t have Nurmagomedov’s power and speed out at range, but he is more consistent and technical. If Maness hasn’t added some kicks and long jabs to his arsenal, Ulanbekov will pick him to pieces. Tagir Ulanbekov by decision.
Staff picking Ulanbekov: Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Maness: Bissell
Mark Madsen vs. Grant Dawson
Tim Bissell: The undefeated Danish Olympian is getting a big step up in competition here in what I think is actually the best fight on the card. He’s undefeated. so the metric is picking Madsen. On paper it seems as though Madsen’s wrestling will be adequate to secure a decision here. He’s got a 66% success rate on takedowns. Dawson only has a 40% success rate on stuffing them. This is MMA, not wrestling, though. And Dawson seems more dangerous than Madsen in other factors of the game, but he’s not a killer on the feet. Madsen should be able to control this fight and secure another decision win. Mark Madsen via decision.
Zane Simon: For all of Madsen’s exceptional wrestling credentials, there are a lot of similarities between the strengths and weaknesses that he and Dawson bring into the cage. Both men have functional, but limited striking games that they’ll lean on for long stretches, both men will grind relentlessly if given the opportunity, but aren’t especially notable GnP threats. And both men can be surprised and taken down themselves by opponents not overawed by the threat of their wrestling games. Where they differ is in the details. On the feet, Madsen is a more targeted, power striker with a stiff delivery, while Dawson tends to pepper away with quick, slapping strikes that keep him at a safer range. On the mat, Madsen’s grappling is still almost entirely wrestling focused. He’s not a great control fighter, just because he doesn’t have a lot of offense to offer once the fight is down. The moment he stops trying to hold positions, opponents tend to escape. Dawson is a much better lock down positional grappler, with a quick back take game and a penchant for forcing opponents into rough spots where they have to defend against his threats. I think that’s the real key here, that if this fight hits the floor a lot, Dawson has more tools to create lasting offense there. If it stays standing, it could easily be that Madsen’s power will be a big difference maker. But given how readily both men wrestle, and that both can be taken down, a pure striking battle doesn’t seem likely. Grant Dawson by decision.
Staff picking Madsen: Bissell
Staff picking Dawson: Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane
Darrick Minner vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke
Zane Simon: Should be an absolute brawl straight out of the gate. If the fight lasts more than a round, Nuerdanbieke is the much, much more hard nosed, durable and pace pushign fighter. But for that first round, he’ll be almost certainly throwing himself into the teeth of Minner’s grappling game over and over. Darrick Minner via submission, round 1.
Staff picking Minner: Dayne, Zane
Staff picking Nuerdanbieke: Bissell, Kristen, Stephie
Miranda Maverick vs. Shana Young
Zane Simon: This was already going to be a tough fight for Young, given how easy she is to back to the cage and how much Maverick likes clinch takedowns, but her struggles with weight probably only add more pressure. Miranda Maverick by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Maverick: Bissell, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Young:
Mario Bautista vs. Benito Lopez
Zane Simon: Should be a wild, brawling fight. Bautista is the more dedicated wrestler and grappler and tends to keep his fights in more control, so I’ll lean toward him. But every minute it’s standing at distance should be a thrill. Mario Bautista by decision.
Staff picking Bautista: Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane
Staff picking Lopez: Bissell
Jinh Yu Frey vs. Polyana Viana
Zane Simon: Technically, Frey should absolutely win this every day and twice on Sundays. Realistically, she is so low output and unaggressive that it’s hard to pick her in any fight. Viana loves to sub hunt and always tries to make something happen, even if that often leads to her own downfall, I’ll side with that over inactivity. Polyana Viana via submission, round 1.
Staff picking Frey: Kristen
Staff picking Viana: Bissell, Dayne, Stephie, Zane
Johnny Munoz Jr. vs. Liudvik Sholinian
Zane Simon: Flip a coin. Munoz is starting to figure out his boxing game, but hasn’t got much beyond jabs and moving his feet. Sholinian loves to walk forward onto punches and isn’t quite the wrestling force he thinks he is. I’ll take Sholinian, just because I don’t think Munoz likes pressure much and I don’t think he’s got enough offense to offer to keep Sholinian off him. Liudvik Sholinian via decision.
Staff picking Munoz Jr.: Bissell, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie
Staff picking Sholinian: Zane
Jake Hadley vs. Carlos Candelario
Zane Simon: Good chance Hadley goes out and grabs a sub here and makes me look silly. But Candelario’s never been tapped, scrambled well with Tatsuro Taira, and Hadley is entirely too willing to play a losing guard game. Carlos Candelario by decision.
Staff picking Hadley: Bissell, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie
Staff picking Candelario: Zane
Ramona Pascual vs. Tamires Vidal
Zane Simon: Pasucal does a whole hell of a lot more right moment to moment than Vidal, but she’s also not half as athletic, and that counts for a hell of a lot—as Pascual has been regularly finding out in her short UFC career. Vidal via decision.
Staff picking Pascual: Kristen, Dayne, Stephie
Staff picking Vidal: Bissell, Zane
Last week was a tough one for us. Stephie won the event with a 7-4 record. Dayne came in second 6-5 and the rest of us went 5-6. Kristen gets the plaudits for being the only staffer to pick Khalil Rountree over Dustin Jacoby, with her pick coming through on a close split decision.
Leader board (as of Sept 3):
1. Zane 58-25 .699
2. Dayne 54-26 .675
3. Kristen 46-25 .648
4. Anton 30-18 .625
5. Stephie 50-33 .602
6. Victor 18-12 .600
7. Bissell 49-34 .590
8. Lewis 3-3 .500
This poll is closed