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UFC Vegas 39 preview, ‘Dern vs Rodriguez’ predictions

UFC Fight Night: Dern v Cifers Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Streaking UFC strawweight title contender Mackenzie Dern will look to continue her march toward the 115-pound title when she collides with once-beaten Brazilian bruiser Marina Rodriguez in the UFC Vegas 39 main event, which takes place this Sat. afternoon (Oct. 9, 2021) inside the promotion’s APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. And like every UFC fight card, we’re here to help decide who wins and who loses tomorrow night in “Sin City.”

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 62 On ESPN+

FLYWEIGHT FRACAS! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., Oct. 15, 2022, with an intriguing women’s Flyweight contenders’ bout that will see No. 5-ranked Alexa Grasso and No. 6-seeded Viviane Araujo look to make a statement in their first-ever UFC main event. In UFC Vegas 62’s co-main event, all-action Bantamweight veterans collide as Cub Swanson faces Jonathan Martinez inside the Octagon.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Reminder: Tyson Fury battles Deontay Wilder for the WBC heavyweight title this Sat. night on ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV) and UFC is not dumb enough to counter-program a boxing event of that magnitude, so look for a special 1 p.m. ET start time for UFC Vegas 39, with the ESPN+ main card popping off around 4 p.m. ET, also on ESPN+.

Before we deconstruct the UFC Vegas 39 main and co-main events, which includes the welterweight mashup between Randy Brown and Jared Gooden, head over to the UFC Vegas 39 preliminary card breakdown expertly deconstructed by the shamelessly overworked Patrick Stumberg here and here. For the latest “Dern vs. Rodriguez” odds and betting lines be sure to check out the updated numbers right here.

Let’s break it down ...

115 lbs.: Mackenzie Dern vs. Marina Rodriguez

Mackenzie Dern

Record: 11-1 | Age: 28 | Betting line: -170
Wins: 0 KO/TKO, 7 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 5’4“ | Reach: 63” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.64 | Striking accuracy: 38%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.57 | Striking Defense: 61%
Takedown Average: 0.51 (10% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 0%
Current Ranking: No. 4 | Last fight: Submission win over Nina Nunes

Marina Rodriguez

Record: 14-1-2 | Age: 34 | Betting line: +150
Wins: 6 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 7 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 5’6“ | Reach: 65” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.89 | Striking accuracy: 48%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.24 | Striking Defense: 54%
Takedown Average: 0.28 (33% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 62%
Current Ranking: No. 6 | Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Michelle Waterson

The Mackenzie Dern who will take center stage this weekend in “Sin City” is not the same fighter who crossed over from Invicta FC more than three years back. Every athlete matures as they get increasingly comfortable inside the Octagon, but Dern — ever since giving birth to a baby girl in June 2019 — has completely eliminated her weight-cutting issues. In addition, the ADCC gold medalist took the first loss of her career and learned from it, roaring back with four straight wins, three of which ended by way of submission. If there’s a criticism to be made, aside from her putrid striking, it’s that Dern has yet to face a Top 5 opponent. In fact, her only win over a Top 10 fighter came at the expense of the generously ranked Nina Nunes, currently sitting at No. 7 in the 115-pound weight class.

Marina Rodriguez is one spot above Nunes at No. 6 and earned that spot with back-to-back wins over Amanda Ribas and Michelle Waterson. Not exactly the cream of the crop in terms of technical acumen, but it’s worth pointing out that Ribas is the only fighter to get past Dern. I don’t want to tumble down the MMA math rabbit hole, so we’ll just say that Rodriguez is not to be taken lightly, a lesson Tecia Torres learned when they went to war in summer 2019. On the flip side, Rodriguez had a couple of close calls en route to a 14-1 record, racking up a pair of majority draws in bangers with Randa Markos and Cynthia Calvillo. I’m not going to make a fuss over her split decision loss to Carla Esparza because “Cookie Monster” scored five takedowns in that fight and Dern will not present the same challenges, at least when it comes to the wrestling game.

I doubt I’m blowing anyone’s mind when I suggest Dern is only winning this fight by submission, and there’s nothing wrong with that, because I wouldn’t expect a bricklayer like Conor McGregor to keep his left hand at bay simply to “prove something to the fans.” Dern has zero knockout wins and a striking accuracy of just 38 percent, which I believe is the worst in the entire division. The challenge will be to get Rodriguez into a compromising position, which may not be easy, though Dern will have five rounds to find an opening. I know the sexy pick is Dern by submission, but Rodriguez holds a height and reach advantage, which I believe she’ll use to pepper her opponent — while keeping herself out of danger — en route to a sweep on the judges’ scorecards.

Prediction: Rodriguez def. Dern by unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Randy Brown vs. Jared Gooden

Randy “Rude Boy” Brown

Record: 13-4 | Age: 31 | Betting line: -240
Wins: 6 KO/TKO, 5 SUB, 2 DEC | Losses: 2 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.72 | Striking accuracy: 47%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.79 | Striking Defense: 53%
Takedown Average: 0.98 (46% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 71%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Submission win over Alex Oliveira

Jared “Nite Train” Gooden

Record: 18-6 | Age: 27 | Betting line: +195
Wins: 8 KO/TKO, 6 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 5 DEC
Height: 6’0“ | Reach: 77” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.04 | Striking accuracy: 42%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 7.55 | Striking Defense: 49%
Takedown Average: 0.96 (100% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 83%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Knockout win over Niklas Stolze

Randy Brown burst onto the scene back in early 2016 after an electric run on the regional circuit. “Rude Boy” was 6-0 for Ring of Combat — which produced fellow UFC headliners like Chris Weidman and Uriah Hall, among others — with all six wins by way of knockout or submission. A debut victory over Matt Dwyer at UFC on FOX 18 let the welterweight division know there was a new player in town ... then it all fell apart fairly quickly. Not to suggest that a 6-4 record in the years that followed was anything to be ashamed of, but losing to Belal Muhammad and Vicente Luque proved Brown was not ready to be a contender at 170 pounds. The good news is that the 31 year-old “Rude Boy” is coming off a submission win over Brazilian sperm bank Alex Oliveira, so if he’s going to make a run at the top of the division, it’s now or never.

You can make similar arguments for (and against) Jared Gooden, who is roughly three years younger than Brown but spent twice as much time on the regional scene. To date, we’ve only seen three UFC fights from “Nite Train” and two of them were decision losses, but a subsequent knockout win over Niklas Stolze in July got to show MMA fans why the promotion was so high on the Atlanta-based bruiser when they poached him from Titan FC back in early 2020. Gooden credits his turnaround to a change in temperament, letting go of his angry, kill-em-all attitude toward cage fighting in lieu of a more measured, cerebral approach. Then again, Gooden also promised to end this upcoming fight by way of knockout, so I would imagine some of that inner beast still remains. No question Gooden will take a few to give one back, as “Nite Train” absorbs nearly eight significant strikes per minute. Great for Just Bleed fans, not-so-great for longterm health.

Both fighters are well rounded and a threat wherever the fight goes, though you can make a case based on the available statistics that Brown is the more technically proficient fighter. It’s a shame we have yet to see Gooden fight someone in the Top 15 because it would have eliminated the possibility that he’s a glorified can crusher. Perhaps this is the fight that gives us that insight, because Brown has been locked inside the cage with some of the bigger names in the division and you just can’t get that kind of experience anywhere else. The downside is those names have soundly defeated him, and I just can’t get too worked up over the “Cowboy” win from last April. Unless Gooden does something stupid or rushes in with reckless abandon, I think he’s going to end this one in the opening frame.

Prediction: Gooden def. Brown by knockout will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 39 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 1 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 4 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 39 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here. For the updated and finalized “Dern vs. Rodriguez” fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.

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