Two of the top women's strawweight fighters will square off when Mackenzie Dern takes on Marina Rodriguez in a scheduled five-round bout on Saturday. The final match of UFC Fight Night: Dern vs. Rodriguez will mark Rodriguez's first appearance on the main card. Rodriguez enters the Octagon ranked No. 6 in the division. Dern is fourth in the strawweight division and No. 12 in the UFC women's pound-for-pound rankings.
The preliminary UFC fight card from the UFC Apex facility is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET with the main UFC card starting at 4 p.m. ET. Dern is a -170 favorite (risk $170 to win $100), while Rodriguez is a +145 underdog in the latest Dern vs. Rodriguez odds from Caesars Sportsbook. The over-under for total rounds expected is set at 2.5. Before making any Dern vs. Rodriguez picks or UFC Fight Night: Dern vs. Rodriguez bets, make sure you check out the MMA predictions from SportsLine MMA expert Andrew Gombas.
Gombas is a former NCAA wrestler who taps into his experience on the mat to help understand and dissect the X's and O's of MMA matchups in a manner that sets him apart from other MMA analysts. He started the MMA handicapping service MMA Knockout Bets in 2018 and has shown a profit every year since.
With more than 1,200 selections tracked by the third-party monitoring service Bet MMA, he has shown a 10 percent return on investment for his followers. In 2020, $100 bettors who tailed his picks were up $9,200.
Last week at UFC Fight Night: Santos vs. Walker, Gombas went 7-4 for 2.95 units profit and also hit the main event on Thiago Santos. Anyone who has followed him is way up.
Now, he has locked in on UFC Fight Night: Dern vs. Rodriguez from every angle and released his top selections. A successful parlay of these picks would result in a payout of nearly 16-1. You can head to SportsLine now to see all of Gombas' MMA picks.
UFC Fight Night: Dern vs. Rodriguez preview
Gombas knows the 28-year-old Dern has an impressive resume. In 12 total fights, she has 11 wins, with seven of those coming by submission. She is a 22-time gold medalist in women's submission wrestling and her skills have translated well to MMA. She has posted six wins by submission in her last eight victories.
Dern began her MMA career in July 2016 with a unanimous decision victory over Kenia Rosas at Legacy FC 58. She followed that up with six more wins before suffering her lone loss at UFC Fight Night: Joanna vs. Waterson in October 2019. That night, she lost a unanimous decision to Amanda Ribas. She has rebounded since with four consecutive wins.
Rodriguez, 34, started her professional MMA career six years ago and immediately experienced success. Fighting primarily in Brazil, she compiled a 9-0 record before joining Dana White's Contender Series Brazil. In her series debut in August 2018, she made quite an impression and won by TKO over Maria de Oliveira Neta at 3:03 of the first round. She then went 2-0-2 in her next two fights.
After suffering her only career loss, a split decision to Carla Esparza in July 2020, Rodriguez rebounded in a big way. At UFC 257, she pounded Amanda Ribas, recording a TKO 54 seconds into the second round. That earned her Performance of the Night honors. So who is Gombas backing? His picks can only be seen at SportsLine.
UFC Fight Night: Dern vs. Rodriguez predictions
We'll share one of Gombas' UFC Fight Night predictions here: He's is backing Sabina Mazo (-170) to beat Mariya Agapova by KO/TKO in a women's flyweight showdown.
Mazo (9-2) joined UFC in 2019 and lost her first fight against Maryna Moroz by decision before ratting off three straight victories. However, the "Colombian Queen" lost her only bout in 2021 to Alexis Davis, though that was fought at bantamweight. The former Legacy Fighting Alliance flyweight champion is likely to try to turn her fight against Agapova into a technical boxing match, says Gombas.
Agapova (9-2), who hasn't fought in more than a year, is also coming off a loss as a massive favorite against Shana Dobson, a fighter Mazo defeated by unanimous decision in August 2019. With Agapova's average fight time more than six minutes shorter than Mazo's, Gombas believes the Kazakhstan-born competitor will likely blitz the favored fighter from the outset and try to end the fight early.
"If Mazo can last the initial onslaught, she probably takes over late," Gombas told SportsLine.
How to make UFC Fight Night: Dern vs. Rodriguez picks
Gombas also has strong picks for Dern vs. Rodriguez and other fights on the UFC Fight Night card. He's also backing one big underdog to pull off a massive upset by KO/TKO. You can see all of Gombas' UFC picks and MMA analysis at SportsLine.
Who wins Dern vs. Rodriguez? And which underdog is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see Andrew Gombas' best bets for Saturday, all from the MMA expert who was all over Thiago Santos' win over Johnny Walker last week, and find out.
UFC Fight Night odds, card
Mackenzie Dern (-170) vs. Marina Rodriguez (+145)
Randy Brown (-230) vs. Jared Gooden (+190)
Tim Elliott (+160) vs. Matheus Nicolau (-200)
Sabina Mazo (-170) vs. Mariya Agapova (+145)
Phil Hawes (-330) vs. Deron Winn (+260)
Chris Gutierrez (-260) vs. Felipe Colares (+210)
Alexander Romanov (-625) vs. Jared Vanderaa (+450)
Damon Jackson (-175) vs. Charles Rosa (+150)
Steve Garcia (-310) vs. Charlie Ontiveros (+250)