Last night (Sat., Oct. 9, 2021), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) remained inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, for UFC Vegas 39. Let’s get this out of the way now: last night’s card, as well as the next two weeks of events, was not the deepest show in the history of Apex. Outside of the main event, few rankings or title implications were involved. It’s all about the action inside the cage, as these fights can still be very worth-watching if there’s a great scrap or mesmerizing technical display.
Let’s take another look at the best performances and techniques:
The Inconsistent Progress of Mackenzie Dern
Last night’s main event was about as clear a style clash as one can find. Mackenzie Dern is the jiu-jitsu ace, an elite grappler who can pull a submission out of a hat quickly. Marina Rodriguez is the for Muay Thai champion, a composed kickboxer who seeks to break her foes down with heavy shots.
All of the above is true, but it ignores where each woman is at in their respective careers. Just a few fights ago, Dern was being written off as a prospect too green behind the ears. Meanwhile, Rodriguez has fought nothing but top contenders — including a former champion — and fought the full 25 minutes earlier this year.
Rodriguez is seasoned, while Dern is not. Both women were able to dominate periods of the contest by playing to their strengths, but when it came to rebounding and pulling the fight back into their realms afterward, Rodriguez was far more successful.
When Dern faced adversity, her bad habits arose. She started loading up far too much on her power punches, stumbling out of position, and desperately reaching for the clinch. All the good work she’s made with Jason Parillo — and Dern has genuinely improved — went out of the window as fatigue and damage grew.
Hopefully, more experience will help Dern stick to the script, because her grappling is sensational. Meanwhile, Rodriguez once again put on an excellent performance to prove herself one of the division’s top contenders.
It’s amazing what a bit of patience can do for a fighter.
Mariya Agapova gained some hype in her UFC debut by bullying Hannah Cifers, scoring a quick finish as a result of her overwhelming physicality. She tried to repeat the feat opposite Shana Dobson, but when “Danger” was able to hang tough through a miserable first round, Agapova imploded in the second.
As a result, she entered last night’s bout vs. Sabina Mazo as a minor underdog. Mazo has a reputation for toughness and conditioning, as well as more skill than the aforementioned Dobson. The recipe for a second rally was there.
Fortunately, Agapova adapted. Rather than rush at her opponent, she patiently circled the Octagon, allowing Mazo to step to her. As Mazo advanced, Agapova timed her heavy right hook and straight cross, snapping Mazo’s head back with a painful consistency. Even from her back foot, Agapova can clearly crack, and Mazo didn’t like it one bit.
Still, Mazo persisted, walking through hard liver kicks and punches repeatedly. As a result of her more tactical approach, Agapova maintained her pace and landed with power into the third, when she dropped Mazo. Immediately, she jumped the neck to secure the finish, once again igniting some high hopes for the 24 year old’s future.
- Alexandr Romanov defeats Jared Vanderaa via second-round knockout: Against non-wrestlers, Romanov is a problem at Heavyweight. He tossed Vanderaa all over the cage, and from top position, he’s dangerous with both strikes and submissions. Vanderaa tried pretty valiantly to scramble up from his back, but he only wound up tired and in worse positions, resulting in the eventual stoppage from mount.
- Lupita Godinez defeats Silvana Gomez Juarez via first-round armbar: Godinez proved herself a level above her foe on the mat last night. It took less than a minute for her first takedown to land, as Godinez was clearly the more physical athlete. On her second takedown, Godinez was able to actually secure the back, and when Juarez tried to shake her off the top, she fell directly into an armbar.
- Steve Garcia defeats Charlie Ontiveros via second-round knockout: Fortunes change quickly inside the Octagon. Early on, Ontiveros was on fire, scoring with flashy kicks and really hurting his opponent. However, the second Garcia gained top position, everything changed. Ontiveros’ grappling inexperience was on display, and Garcia actually did a great job of doing damage from mount without losing position; that’s not easy! Starting with small elbows, Garcia eventually gained posture to drop fight-finishing hammer fists and hooks.
For complete UFC Vegas 39: “Dern vs. Rodriguez” results and play-by-play, click HERE!