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UFC 223: New Blood - Mike Rodriguez

Mike Rodriguez

And we’re back, folks. After weeks of subsisting on regional mixed martial arts (MMA) and Bellator, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns this Saturday evening (April 7, 2018) with several bouts in store, most notably the women’s Strawweight title rematch between Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk after the highly-anticipated Lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Max Holloway blew up earlier this morning. Nevertheless, of the 18 fighters throwing down in Brooklyn, 17 have made the walk to the Octagon at least once before, leaving just one to examine prior to this weekend’s festivities.

Name: Mike “Slo-Mike” Rodriguez
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight
Age: 29
Record: 9-2 (7 KO, 2 SUB)
Notable Victories: Jamelle Jones

Rodriguez scored three first-round knockouts, two of them in less than one minute apiece, before getting his shot on “Tuesday Night Contender Series,” where he leveled Jamelle Jones with a vicious flying knee. He has won six of his last seven bouts overall ... all by stoppage.

Standing 6’3” and boasting an 83” reach, Rodriguez cuts an imposing figure who makes it hard to believe he used to compete at 185 pounds. He works at range behind a southpaw one-two combination and showed some nice low line kicks against Jones. Plus, that flying knee knockout was no fluke — it’s a legitimate weapon in his arsenal and something opponents have to keep in mind when they get too close to the cage.

Do not sleep on this guy’s striking.

Grappling-wise, he shut down Jones’ sole takedown attempt with relative ease, but had issues when previous foe Alec Hooben got in on his hips. That said, his submission defense looked stout and he can deliver some real damage if he manages to scramble into top position. It’s still worth keeping an eye on, though, as that’s the obvious route opponents will take against him.

Opponent: Rodriguez faces another Dana White project: Devin Clark, an alumnus of “Lookin’ for a Fight.” Clark really hasn’t evolved from the prototypical wrestle-boxer he was when he first debuted and had serious issues implementing his gameplan against the longer, rangier Jan Blachowicz. Rodriguez presents the same sort of physical challenge and has more stopping power in his strikes than Blachowicz, but his so-so takedown defense makes this fight a toss-up.


Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 223 fight card, starting with the FOX Sports 1-televised “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

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