With one of the best or worst, nicknames in the UFC, “The Great Drakolini” made a name for himself by securing a first-round triangle submission on DWCS in 2020. That impressive finish earned him a UFC contract where Drako Rodriguez lost by a first-round KO, despite being a sizable 2.5:1 favorite in his debut. Now 7-2 overall, Rodriguez’s only losses have come via KO/TKO.
Standing opposite Rodriguez in the cage will be Vince “Vendetta” Morales. The featherweight has a salty 9-5 record and is only 1-3 in the UFC. His one win was a decision victory over Zahabi, the same man who KO’d Rodriguez in his debut. Decisions are uncommon for Morales, of his 14 professional fights, he’s only seen the scorecards 4 times. His other 10 fights have been finishes, both wins, and losses.
Rodriguez vs. Morales betting odds
Currently an even-money pick’em, Rodriguez and Morales are each -115 ahead of their bout. Vegas is predicting a close, coin-flip, matchup.
Rodriguez vs. Morales breakdown
Rodriguez is young, only 25, and talented. However, he is still raw. As mentioned above, both of Rodriguez’s losses have been knockout. Looking deeper though, I don’t think he actually has a chin issue. His first KO loss came to the powerful Tony Gravely in round 5 of their 2018 fight. Any fighter able to withstand punishment for nearly 25 minutes means he or she has a reliable enough chin. Offensively, Rodriguez has heavy hands himself, is strong in the clinch, and can secure submissions if and when the fit hits the mat. While his striking volume and accuracy can improve—2.6 significant strikes per minute with a less-than stellar 35% accuracy— his take down game is very strong. Rodriguez averages 2.7 take downs per fight with an impressive 100% accuracy. Once he gets his opponents down, he hunts the finish; and, is often successful.
With two submission losses and only a 55% take down defense, Morales will want to keep the fight standing. Similarly to his opponent, Morales has a low striking accuracy but does throw with more volume and often in combinations. Often preferring a patient approach, Morales either lets his opponent dictate the pace; or, if he turns the tides, leans heavily on his front leg which leaves him vulnerable to leg kicks. In fact, he was finished, brutally, by leg kicks in his most recent fight. Despite his range issues, “Vendetta” is a solid mixed martial artist who is well-rounded wherever the fight goes.
Rodriguez vs. Morales prediction
Morales is well-rounded but not great anywhere. When he faces an opponent with a specialized talent, he struggles to negate that skillset. Rodriguez is still raw but has the skillset that should secure him a win. So long as his chin can withstand a few shots, I see Rodriguez wrestling his way to a win. A submission victory is an interesting angle; but, with pick’em odds, I’ll stay with Rodriguez money line.
Prediction: Rodriguez to win
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.