A women’s strawweight fight between Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Lemos is this weekend’s UFC main event in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Rodriguez vs. Lemos is the five-round featured bout of UFC Fight Night 214, which is set to take place at the UFC Apex facility on Saturday, November 5. A featherweight scrap between Bryce Mitchell and Movsar Evloev was the originally scheduled main event, but that fight fell apart due to Evloev suffering an injury in October.
Rodriguez enters the fight on a four-fight win streak against skilled opposition including Yan Xiaonan, Mackenzie Dern, Michelle Waterson, and Amanda Ribas. Lemos bounced back with a win against Waterson following a submission defeat against Jessica Andrade in April this year.
Read on for our Rodriguez vs. Lemos staff picks, predictions, and the latest betting odds before this weekend’s UFC main event.
Marina Rodriguez enters as a moderate betting favorite before the UFC Fight Night 214 main event. Lemos is a +175 underdog.
There are a lot of details that will win this fight. In a general sense, I believe that Marina Rodriguez is technically the better striker, although her margin for error is smaller because Amanda Lemos can put anyone in the division out if she lands flush at the right time. To extend that point, having a ‘safe’ contest, meaning a technical contest that is patient and slower pace, benefits Rodriguez in the way that she is the one with five round experience. Both due to her knockout capabilities and lack of experience over longer fights it benefits Lemos to force Rodriguez to engage earlier, faster and ultimately in a more aggressive fight.
The biggest advantage on Rodriguez’s side is range control. Although both are dangerous strikers, Lemos primarily offers a boxing-based attack with solid low kicks. She is very accurate with her straights and hooks, but Rodriguez can pick her apart with kicks if a large portion of the fight is kept at leg reach. In the situations where Lemos can cut off the octagon or enter inside that range, Rodriguez has devastating elbows and knee inside, which become even more brutal if Lemos walks onto them. However, she has to be careful about standing her ground and looking for these because Lemos has great sweeps and trips from the clinch and a definite advantage in grappling and submissions. Rodriguez is difficult to finish on the mat and she is good at scrambling but she has lost rounds on control if stuck in bottom for minutes, this is Lemos’ biggest weapon over five rounds, if she can build time in top position.
In the end, range is going to be the biggest factor; Rodriguez from the outside utilizing her footwork, feints, kicks, and long punches, Lemos in boxing range with her heavy punches, Rodriguez in close with her knees and elbows and then Lemos with her clinch grappling. Whoever can control the range and dictate where the fight plays out most should win. I do think that Rodriguez can do this, if Lemos is more patient than usual to conserve energy in her first five-round fight that plays to Rodriguez, if she comes out aggressive and tries to bank on early momentum, I believe Rodriguez can transition between maintaining her range and holding her ground to cut her off with strikes. It’s more important for Rodriguez to stop the takedown early as if she can do so and drag Lemos into unknown waters late in the fight than I believe we see Lemos’ grappling become less effective.
Bet: Marina Rodriguez to win (-220 odds at BetUS)
Rodriguez’s fight style is basic to recognize and describe, but her execution and results are far from basic. Rodriguez is a highly skilled and powerful striker, mainly a boxer, with reliable cardio and intelligence that rarely puts her out of position. She often fights behind a jab which keeps opponents at her preferred range, on her preferred rhythm, and at her preferred space in the cage. When she is dictating the fight, Rodriguez epitomizes the boxing adage “hit and don’t get hit.” She enters a flow state where she lands crisp and clean combinations and then exits the pocket without getting hit cleanly in return. Her striking is truly impressive to watch and her combinations land with genuine power. But, when an opponent can disrupt her rhythm and force her into an uncomfortable position, Rodriguez struggles. If she faces a pressure striker who bulrushes her jab, Rodriguez has been bated into an exciting but ill-advised phone-booth brawl. Her clean and crisp striking is nullified and a more even exchange of leather occurs. Further, if an opponent can pressure forward, they have found success taking Rodriguez down. She does have solid grappling and jiu-jitsu, but experienced wrestlers, like the current champ, have found success holding her down. These two strategies require opponents to pressure through high level strikes from Rodriguez, easier said than done.
Lemos is less technical than Rodriguez but more dangerous. She is large for the division, has great power, quickly and powerfully unleashes combinations which include both punches and kicks. On the feet, especially early in a fight, Lemos fearlessly walks forward and looks to initiate an exchange with her opponent. Because Lemos often has the edge in power and her strikes sometimes come from odd angles, she seems content risking a brawl. Much like her opponent, Lemos is almost exclusively a striker and wants the fight to remain on the feet. She is tall, athletic, and strong; so, taking her down is no small task. But, in the fights where she has hit the mat, Lemos has struggled from her back. The other issue that has plagued Lemos in the past is her cardio. Thus far, she either comes into a fight like a bat out of hell, throwing powerful strikes with ill-intent that either end the fight quickly or force to her gas out. Or, Lemos swings to the other end of the spectrum and comes into a fight trying to conserve her cardio with frustratingly low volume. In either case, Lemos’ game hasn’t seemed to “click” yet for a 5 round fight. In three-round affairs, she has looked like a powerhouse and a real problem in the division; but, main events and the gold strap often require the full 25 minutes.
Given their ages (each 35) and the top 5 contenders, if either woman hopes to hold the belt in the strawweight division, both will have to prove they can fight intelligently and technically even when facing a firestorm of strikes. This matchup is the perfect test. Rodriguez is skilled and has a 5-round cardio that can keep her away from Lemos while still landing important shot. Lemos hits like a truck but can get wild at times and struggles with cardio. Rodriguez wins this fight behind her jab and footwork. Meanwhile, Lemos is going to be dangerous for as long as she has the cardio. I expect this scrap to be razor-thin and exciting: technical and brutal at the same time. In the end, I’ll slightly side with Rodriguez, either via late finish through an accumulation of damage or a decision.
Bet: Rodriguez to win (-220 odds at BetUS)
Marina Rodriguez is one of the most under-discussed fighters who have the ability not just to contend but win the belt in the near future. The presumptive reasoning for this would be her being a hyper-technical fighter that clinches her way to a victory – perceived as the most boring way to fight – thus generating little to no buzz, but, Rodriguez is in fact one of the most entertaining strawweight fighters on the roster, as she understands how to maximize her size to inflict damage onto her opponent.
The way Rodriguez looks to fight is quite similar to her opponent in this matchup which is somewhat odd, but, is great for Rodriguez. I reference oddity in fight style because many strawweight fighters use an elite ground game or well-rounded attacks on the feet, rooted in speed over power, to win fights. But, for Rodriguez, the implementation of elite boxing by establishing physical dominance over her opponent is how she fights. And, the success in doing so is quite apparent, as she is on a 4-fight win steak, all wins over elite opponents.
The consequence, or result, of having elite striking is having to stuff takedowns. While this is an inherent danger, when the desire is to keep the fight standing, the other detriment to having to do so is having greater difficulty in truly letting one’s hands go. While Rodriguez has more than shown the ability to establish dominance on the feet, she had to go the distance of late because she has needed to stay within herself to ensure she is always in the position to defend the takedown. Doing so illustrates her having incredible fighting intelligence, and, her success in beating elite competitors who have all had strong grappling.
As stated prior, Amanda Lemos fights very similarly to Rodriguez. Meaning, while many strawweight fighters use grappling, technique, and point fighting to win, Lemos looks to strike. Where Lemos greatly differs from Rodriguez is the intent of striking, as Lemos looks to take your head off regardless of the potential consequences. These consequences are gassing out and/or getting taken down, but, Lemos fully trusts that if she connects cleanly, she will end the night in a quick and victorious fashion.
Lemos, being in the lightest weight class the UFC has to offer, and fighting like a men’s heavyweight fighter makes her one of the most electrifying athletes on the roster. And, the fact that Lemos does have a ground game, albeit the extent of how elite the ground game is still up in the air, makes her a well-rounded fighter who too can contend for a belt. The issue, and differentiating factor, is that Lemos will need to show improvement with her cardio if she continues to strike the way she does. If her cardio can improve, she has all the skills needed to be one of, if not, the most feared strawweights on the roster.
The fact that Rodriguez and Lemos are one of a handful of elite strike-first fighters in the strawweight division makes this matchup incredibly fun. While fun, the fact that both women have the power necessary to end the night with a few strikes gives both a chance to win, but, I do expect Rodriguez has the far greater probability of having her hand raised in this matchup.
So long as she can weather the early storm of Lemos – Rodriguez has the physical size and elite technique to do so – she should be able to open up her striking and put on a pace and pressure that begins to be too much for Lemos. Ultimately, I do not see this fight going to the scorecards, and expect Rodriguez to get a late-round finish.
Bet: Rodriguez ITD (-220 odds to win at BetUS)
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.