Marina Rodriguez probably won’t earn a strawweight title shot with a victory over Michelle Waterson in the UFC Vegas 26 headliner this weekend at APEX, especially with No. 3-ranked Yan Xiaonan and No. 4-ranked Carla Esparza set to collide later this month.
But a lot can happen before, during, and after that fight. The winner could be injured, the fight could end in a draw, or maybe the top contender won’t be mentally ready for a crack at the crown, which is not uncommon in the 115-pound weight class.
“After winning this fight, I believe I am very close to a title shot,” Rodriguez told UFC.com. “I might have to beat one of the Top 3 first — Yan (Xiaonan), Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), or Zhang (Weili) — but it depends a bit on who the next challenger will be; that will determine quite a lot about my near future. But if none of them are up to fighting Rose (Namajunas), I know I am!”
Rodriguez (13-1-2) is coming off a technical knockout victory over Amanda Ribas at UFC 257 back in January. The 34 year-old Brazilian blasted her way into the Octagon with a first-round finish over Maria de Oliveira Neta on Dana White’s “Contender Series” in mid-2018.
As for Namajunas (10-4), she’s coming off a sensational knockout win over Zhang Weili at UFC 261 earlier this month in Jacksonville. No doubt “Thug Rose” will be keeping her eye on the Rodriguez-Waterson fight this Sat. night, scouting what is likely to be a future opponent.