UFC Vegas 39: Post-Fight Press Conference
Mackenzie Dern vs Marina Rodriguez
Official Result: Marina Rodriguez def. Mackenzie Dern by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
The strawweights spent the first few minutes feeling each other out in space, both offering tepid range-finders, but neither throwing anything of real substance early in this potential five-round affair.
Rodriguez landed with the first clean strike midway through the round, touching Dern’s lead leg with a low kick. Dern pressed forward, closing the distance soon after, getting stuck in an odd position where Rodriguez landed a sharp elbow to the midsection, doing a very good job to maintain control of the exchange. Rodriguez stuck a front kick and a long right hand into Dern’s midsection, then hit her with a counter right up top off a lazy Dern jab late int he round, closing out the frame with another sharp knee to the belly.
Dern crashed forward behind pawing strikes immediately to start the second, but Rodriguez worked off the fence without issue. The former Brazilian jiu jitsu world champion remained aggressive and initiate the clinch once more, landing in side control out of a scramble, giving herself plenty of time to work on the canvas. Working off her back, Rodriguez attacked a D’arce choke, forcing Dern to defend, only to lose the hold midway through the round and end up stuck in a crucifix position.
Rodriguez tried to roll to safety, but the flexible and technically sharp Dern climbed onto her back, transitioning to mount and connecting with ground-and-pound late in the frame. Rodriguez survived, but it was a dominant five minutes for the surging Dern.
Rodriguez looked to dictate the terms of engagement to start the third, attacking the lead leg with a low kick and getting loose with her hands a little more, missing the mark, but showing more urgency than she did through the first two rounds. A high kick was partially blocked by Dern, but Rodriguez was found a home for a right, controlling the exchanges and making Dern pay for lazy offerings in space.
With Dern slowing and over-extending on her strike attempts, Rodriguez did a good job of sticking and moving, landing clean shots and getting out into open space without taking any return fire. Dern didn’t look to close the distance util there were 30 seconds left in the frame and Rodriguez not only defended well, but scored with strikes in tight, responding well after a tough second round.
Rodriguez took the center to begin the fourth round, snapping home clean, crisp strikes to start before a kick attempt landed low and brought the fight to a momentary halt. On the re-start Rodriguez got right back after it, crashing home a low kick and forcing Dern to come forward with rushed striking attempts, making her pay each time she did.
Just when Dern started having a little bit of success, Rodriguez responded with a knee to the midsection, shutting down Dern’s forward pressure. A clean right hand backed the grappling standout up midway through the round, and while she showed impressive tenacity in taking everything coming her way, Rodriguez started pulling away in the second half of the frame.
But with 40 seconds remaining in the round, Dern forced a collision that resulted in the fighters landing on the ground with Dern in mount, but once again, Rodriguez was able to survive a potentially dangerous exchange on the canvas to arrive at the fifth round with momentum on her side.
Dern listened to her head coach Jason Parillo and came forward with urgency to start the fifth, but Rodriguez’s ability to control the range and shine on the feet remained key, as she avoided Dern’s approach and landed several meaningful strikes through the opening 90 seconds of the final round.
A left hand from Rodriguez got Dern’s attention and stopped her coming forward momentarily, with a slip seconds later nearly resulting in Rodriguez landing on the canvas. Rodriguez went searching with a right hand with two minutes remaining, backing Dern up towards the cage, chasing it with a long combination that kept Dern moving away. As Dern tried to come forward behind a winging right, Rodriguez ducked under to safety.
Dern again closed the distance in the final minute, securing double underhooks along the fence late in the fight, but Rodriguez remained upright, broke feee and finished the fight throwing offence through to the horn.
This was a tremendous showing from Rodriguez and a quality learning experience for Dern, with the Muay Thai stylist cementing her standing as a legitimate contender in the 115-pound weight class with her third win of 2021.
Randy Brown vs Jared Gooden
Official Result: Randy Brown def. Jared Gooden by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Randy Brown came out throwing long strikes at Jared Gooden, snapping home long punches and missing with a high kick early before wobbling him with a push kick to the dome a minute into the contest. How Gooden remained upright, yet alone continued marching forward, is unknown.
Gooden wisely began attacking with low kicks, hoping to slow Brown’s movement, but “Rudeboy” remained sharp, digging a jab to the midsection. Gooden continued investing in the kicks, and Brown kept his attacks varied, mixing punches and kicks to all levels while starting to talk to Gooden as he advanced, the animosity between the two as a result of Gooden’s weight miss spilling over into the Octagon.
Gooden chopped down Brown with another low kick to start the second, staying diligent with an attack that worked throughout the second half of the opening stanza. Brown was unfazed, however, staying active with a variety of strikes, connecting with clean, technical punches that got Gooden moving backwards.
Gooden worked into space and got back on the low kicks, forcing Brown to slow his output a little as he dealt with a compromised lead leg and jacked up toes on his right foot. But Gooden didn’t really capitalize on it, offering little output before Brown responded with a clean right hand down the pipe that again backed “NiteTrain” up to the fence just before the end of the round.
Brown came out a little more aggressive to start the final round, sticking Gooden with a series of swift jabs, leading the dance through the first half, connecting with marksman-like precision in space. Each time Gooden tried to come forward, Brown stuck him and slid off center, largely avoiding the return fire and piling up the damage.
Even though he was clearly bothered by the big toe on his right foot, Brown continued to dictate the terms of engagement in the third, coming forward behind a flying knee that didn’t quite land flush and more sharp strikes. Gooden tried to come forward and find a home for something heavy, but couldn’t connect, getting knocked off tempo and out of rhythm by the steady diet of counterstrikes coming his way.
This was an entertaining back-and-forth that should be a quality building block for Brown, who earned a clean sweep of the scorecards to secure his second victory of 2021 and push his record to 4-1 over his last five fights.
Tim Elliott vs Matheus Nicolau
Official Result: Matheus Nicolau def. Tim Elliott by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
The flyweights spent the first minute and change engaging in a cat-and-mouse, Tim Elliott trying to close the distance and find his range; Matheus Nicolau circling on the outside, looking to work in and out. Nicolau got caught up in the fence and stumbled to the canvas, with Elliott nearly hitting him with an illegal kick, but thankfully it found the body and not the head.
Back up, they resumed their tactical affair, with Elliott finally committing to a takedown three minutes into the round, collecting an ankle and dumping Nicolau to the canvas, securing a waist lock and controlling the Brazilian along the fence. Nicolau worked his way free and landed a good shot in the center, but Elliott was happy to respond and continue smiling and “swagging out” as his coach James Krause called it.
Right away to start the second, Elliott switched levels and got in on a takedown, roughing up Nicolau with short punches as he tried to work free. Circling one another in the center of the Octagon, Nicolau connected with a good right and a low kick behind it, drawing a smile and acknowledgement out of Elliott, who continued to march forward.
The Brazilian landed a pair of quality digs to the body, prompting Elliott to press forward in search for a takedown, which was unsuccessful, resulting in the duo moving back to the center. Just when Nicolau started to have clear success, Elliott started finding a home for his jab, attacking another pair of takedowns, both of which the Brazilian shut down as the fight headed to the final round.
Nicolau came out firing a little more to start the third, connecting with an early combination before getting back to working on the outside, allowing Elliott to come forward. The former title challenger found a home with a couple skip-in strikes, keeping things close into the final three minutes of the fight, with Elliott wearing on Nicolau along the fence, grinding time off the clock.
Nicolau returned to the digging hook to the body midway through the third, timing up a beautiful double-leg takedown behind it, putting Elliott on the canvas in the center of the Octagon. The American veteran looked to lock him up and collect a stand-up, while Nicolau did what he could from top position heading into the final minute of the fight.
Elliott remained content to wrap up Nicolau, while the Brazilian struggled to land much effective offence, sending this close, entertaining flyweight scrap to the judges for a decision. When the scores were added up, it was the 28-year-old Brazilian that came away with the victory, earning 29-28 scores across the board to collect his second victory of the year and push his record to 5-1 inside the Octagon.
Sabina Mazo vs Mariya Agapova
Official Result: Mariya Agapova def. Sabina Mazo by submission (rear-naked choke) at 0:53 of Round 3
The tandem 24-year-old strikers opened in opposite stances, Sabina Mazo fighting orthodox, and Mariya Agapova out of the southpaw position, with the latter having greater success with her strikes over the opening two minutes. Though Mazo was the one coming forward, Agapova’s speed advantage was clear, as she repeatedly found the mark with quick punches that interrupted her opponent’s forward movement and offensive output.
Three minutes in, Agapova cracked home a body kick that prompted Mazo to drop her elbow to protect her body, with the talented prospect from Kazakhstan attacking that target again a minute later. After being a bundle of energy and high volume fighter through her first couple UFC appearances, Agapova showed tremendous patience and precision during the opening five minutes, maintaining a steady pace and quality success through to the horn.
Mazo began the second coming forward again, opening with low kicks, trying to corral and cut down Agapova. Each time the “Colombian Queen” got into range, however, Agapova smashed home quick combinations, snapping Mazo’s head back sharply before shuffling out to her left.
While Mazo continued to stalk forward, she struggled to cut Agapova off or land any serious offence of her own, eating jabs and another heavy kick to the body heading into the final minute of the round. Late in the frame, Mazo closed the distance, looking for a takedown, but Agapova instantly looked for a guillotine choke that put the Colombian on the defensive, with the duo trading punches through to the end of the round.
For the third straight round, Mazo hustled across the Octagon looking to close the distance and take the fight to Agapova, but just as she had in each of the first two rounds, Agapova beat her to the punch, stinging her with sharp punches.
As Mazo stepped forward behind a lazy lead hook, Agapova connected with a right hand over the top, putting Mazo on the deck. Without hesitation, the talented prospect hopped on her back and sunk in the choke, instantly securing the tap from Mazo.
Just an absolutely flawless effort from Agapova from start to finish, washing away the memories of her massive upset loss last time out and putting her back on the radar as another impressive emerging talent in the flyweight division.
Chris Gutierrez vs Felipe Colares
Official Result: Chris Gutierrez def. Felipe Colares by split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)
The bantamweights came out exchanging kicks to start, with Felipe Colares marching forward offering attacks to all levels while Chris Gutierrez countered with his signature heavy low kicks, adding in a spinning back kick to the body. Colares closed the distance behind punches and initiated the clinch, but Gutierrez quickly reversed the position, putting Colares’ back on the fence momentarily before the duo broke back into space.
As Colares came forward looking to push the pace and press the action, Gutierrez connected with a beautiful right uppercut, using it as an opportunity to initiate the clinch once more, gathering underhooks and keeping the Brazilian in place along the cage before connecting with an elbow on the break late in the round.
While Colares once again came out looking to press forward, Gutierrez landed the better blows to begin the second, throwing more kicks and snapping the Brazilian’s head back with clean counter-strikes while avoiding much of what was coming his way. Each time Colares took a step forward, “El Guapo” picked a side and exited, sticking him with an assortment of attacks.
Just past the midway point of the round, Gutierrez landed with a high kick and followed up down low, continuing to control the action and out-work Colares in a much more active round. Late in the frame, Colares pressed in for a takedown, but just like in the first, Gutierrez easily dug underhooks and defended, circling into control position and breaking into space, resuming his stick-and-move assault on the tough Brazilian through to the horn.
After pointed words from his coach Marc Montoya between rounds, Gutierrez came out throwing to start the third, prompting Colares to look to grapple. Once again, the Factory X Muay Thai representative defended with ease and reversed off the fence and into space. Colares continued pressing forward, but as he did through each of the first two rounds, Gutierrez cut angles and attacked, sniping home shots without taking much return fire.
Colares finally gathered up Gutierrez and got him to the ground with two minutes remaining in the round, settling into Gutierrez’s full guard and looking to work from top position. Gutierrez did a good job to create space and kick free, climbing back to his feet and putting it on Colares down the stretch, opening up with his hands to punctuate another solid 15 minute effort.
The judges were called on for just the second time in five fights, with two of the three judges seeing the fight entirely in Gutierrez’s favor, handing the 30-year-old bantamweight his second straight win, giving him a six-fight unbeaten streak overall.
Alexandr Romanov vs Jared Vanderaa
Official Result: Alexandr Romanov def. Jared Vanderaa by TKO (punches) at 4:43 of Round 2
The heavyweights spent the first minute of the fight largely making reads, Alexandr Romanov connecting with a couple of kicks — two to the body, one low, one high that was parried — while Jared Vanderaa hung out outside, waiting for his opportunity to pounce.
Romanov charged in and closed the distance, with Vanderaa clamping onto a guillotine choke, with Romanov defended and cleared before getting right back on the California native’s waist and tossing him to the canvas. Vanderaa worked his way back to his feet, but couldn’t break Romanov’s grip, resulting in the hulking Moldovan elevating his American opponent and dumping him to the canvas once more.
Vanderaa broke free and got back to his feet with a minute remaining in the round, blocking a high kick from Romanov before the big fellas let loose with their hands in the final 10 seconds of the round.
Romanov landed a one-two, body and head, to open the second, crashing into the clinch behind it and tripping Vanderaa to the canvas with ease, landing on top of one of the giant blood stains left by Damon Jackson. “King Kong” remained patient and coaxed Vanderaa to shift his weight, using the opening to climb into mount, opening him up with a short elbow and prompting referee Mark Smith to take a closer look.
Vanderaa did a good job to buck and roll, but Romanov stayed with him, landing in side control out of a scramble, continuing to land heavy, unanswered blows. At each step, Romanov found the better position and punished Vanderaa, opening him up more and eventually bringing the fight to a close under a torrential downpour of heavy punches.
This was a dominant effort from the undefeated heavyweight from Moldova, as Romanov moved to 15-0 overall and 4-0 inside the Octagon with the victory.
Charles Rosa vs Damon Jackson
Official Result: Damon Jackson def. Charles Rosa by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27)
It took Damon Jackson less than 10 seconds to work into the clinch with Charles Rosa, working in behind a couple pawing jabs before pushing Rosa into the fence and getting into his grind. As they broke off the fence, Rosa seemed to connect with an errant knee below the belt, pausing the action momentarily, the featherweight veterans jawing with one another during the stoppage.
On the restart, Jackson connected with a high kick, with Rosa countering low. After a minute of trading shots in space, Jackson closed the distance again, initiating another clinch, with Rosa breaking free before “The Leech” could get anything going along the wall. Back in space, Jackson continued to have success with his kicks, landing a push kick to the head and a sharp low kick before changing levels and putting Rosa on the canvas.
Rosa looked to attack a leg and force a scramble, but Jackson stayed one step ahead, avoiding any danger and landing heavy damage on the Massachusetts native through to the horn.
The featherweights began trading in space to start the second, each man landing a couple different kicks before a scramble ensued and Jackson landed with his arms wrapped around Rosa’s waist. While Rosa defended well, Jackson stayed sticky and continued to work, returning Rosa to the mat multiple times while searching for opportunities to sink in his hooks, finally securing the back with just over a minute remaining in the round.
Jackson went hunting for a rear-naked choke, but settled for posturing up from back mount, hammering on Rosa with punches and elbows, finishing the round in half guard, measuring up a head-and-arm choke.
Rosa closed the distance right out of the gate to start the third, blasting Jackson with a spinning back elbow that immediately split the Fortis MMA representative wide open. To his credit, Jackson latched on to a choke in the tie-up, controlling Rosa on the ground as he spilled pints of blood on the canvas.
When they climbed to their feet, the bout was paused so the doctor could check the gash on the side of Jackson’s head, giving him the all-clear to continue.
Restarted on the fence with Jackson secured around Rosa’s waist, Jackson instantly dragged him to the canvas. Rosa worked back to his feet quickly and looked to grapple himself, poking at Jackson’s leaking wound every chance he got. With two minutes remaining in the fight, Rosa continued looking for openings and submissions on the ground, locking Jackson in a modified crucifix momentarily, only to have the veteran reverse out and land in top position.
Covered in a crimson mask, Jackson finished things out in top position, seemingly doing enough to secure the victory despite the gnarly axe wound next to his right eye.
When the tens and nines were totalled and the scores were read aloud, Jackson indeed earned the nod, securing a unanimous decision victory.
Loopy Godinez vs Silvana Juarez
Official Result: Loopy Godinez def. Silvana Gomez Juarez by submission (armbar) at 4:14 of Round 1
Loopy Godinez gave Silvana Juarez no room to breath to start this one, closing the distance and sticking her with three sharp, clean punches before changing levels and putting her on the canvas. From there, the Mexican-Canadian continued to control things, returning Gomez Juarez to the mat quickly each time she clambered to her feet, attacking with short, powerful shots while hunting for ways to improve her position and potentially find a submission.
Late in the opening stanza, Godinez took Gomez Juarez’ back, sinking in her hooks and forcing the Argentine to make a positional choice. When Gomez Juarez went the wrong way after gaining wrist control, Godinez went belly-down on an armbar and secured the tap, capping off a thoroughly dominant performance from the talented 28-year-old strawweight.
After dropping a split decision to former title challenger Jessica Penne in her promotional debut, Godinez earns her first UFC victory here, advancing to 6-1 overall, while Gomez Juarez drops to 10-3 with the loss.
Steve Garcia vs Charlie Ontiveros
Official Result: Steve Garcia def. Charlie Ontiveros by TKO (strikes) at 1:51 of Round 2
These lightweights didn’t waste any time getting after it, with Charlie Ontiveros putting Steve Garcia on rubber legs right out of the chute, running an axe kick across the side of the Albuquerque native’s head before catching him with a sharp left hand while Garcia tried to close the distance as well. To his credit, Garcia composed himself and started grappling, dumping Ontiveros to the canvas and settling into top position to clear the cobwebs.
The lanky Ontiveros looked for openings off his back, hunting for an armbar that Garcia easily avoided before working his way back to his feet, only to have the Contender Series alum gather him up again and put him on the deck once more. Working from north-south position on the canvas, Garcia bashed Ontiveros with a series of sharp elbows that split the Texan open, turning his bleached blonde hair into the pinkish hue familiar to anyone that watched “Nature Boy” Ric Flair operate in the NWA day back in the ’80s.
Coming out of the corner to start the second, Garcia and Ontiveros got right back after it, with the former landing a sharp left hand and the latter countering with a right of his own that again rocked Garcia. As he did in the first, Garcia quickly collected Ontiveros up and put him on the canvas, attacking with elbows and punches while climbing to mount with plenty of time to work.
As referee Chris Tognoni moved in to take a closer look, Garcia postured up and unleashed a series of hammerfists, forcing the stoppage and kicking off the day’s action in incredible fashion.
This is the first UFC victory of Garcia’s career and pushes his record to 13-4 overall, while Ontiveros suffers his second straight setback inside the Octagon, falling to 11-8 overall as a professional. There were moments of adversity, but Garcia navigated them successfully and completely dominated every step of the way on the ground.