Michelle Waterson says she believes her edge in experience and resilience will be the difference when she faces Marina Rodriguez in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson on Saturday. The battle of strawweight contenders tops the marquee from the Apex facility in Las Vegas, with the main UFC fight card scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. The ninth-ranked Waterson has gone the full five rounds twice in main events, splitting those bouts. She dug deep in the final frame to win a split decision against Angela Hill in September and will be competing in back-to-back main events for the first time in her career.
Rodriguez is a -200 favorite (risk $200 to win $100), while Waterson is a +175 underdog in the latest Rodriguez vs. Waterson odds from William Hill Sportsbook. In the co-main event, Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone is the -125 favorite against prospect Alex Morono (+105) in a welterweight battle. Before making any UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson picks, make sure you see the MMA predictions from SportsLine insider Ian Parker.
A former fighter who's been in the industry for 15 years, Parker has managed some of the world's best, including former UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman, Costas Philippou and Gian Villante. Parker trained alongside UFC Hall of Famer Matt Serra. Now, Parker breaks down fights and makes betting picks for the Voice of the UFC, Jon Anik.
Parker is coming off a mind-boggling 2020 season. On the Anik & Florian Podcast, Parker went an astounding 58-14, returning $9,465 to $100 bettors who followed him. He hit 11 of his 17 underdog picks and 19 of 30 main events. Overall, Parker nailed an astonishing 81 percent of his plays.
Parker has already proven his mettle to SportsLine members. Last week at UFC Fight Night, he posted a 7-1 record to give $100 bettors a profit of more than $600. His winning MMA picks included calling a dominant performance for Giga Chikadze (-190) against Cub Swanson (+170) in the featherweight co-main event. Chikadze scored a first-round stoppage to provide an easy winner. Moreover, Parker is 8-1 on Bellator picks since joining SportsLine for a profit of nearly $800. Anyone who has followed Parker already has seen massive returns.
Now, with UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson fast approaching, Parker has studied the MMA odds and matchups from every angle and released his top selections. A successful parlay of those selections would result in a payday of around 15-1. Those UFC picks are available here.
UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson preview
Parker knows the main event will provide clarity in a division that is bound to see plenty of movement. Rose Namajunas recently recaptured the crown with her stunning first-round knockout of Zhang Weili two weeks ago at UFC 261.
UFC president Dana White has indicated that a rematch between Namajunas and Weili is likely the division's next title fight, but in the meantime, there are a handful of contenders vying for position in the top 10.
Rodriguez and Waterson are among them, though the favored Brazilian would appear to have an edge in leverage. This is largely because of her upset of Ribas, who had widely been considered the division's fastest-rising prospect. Ribas had won all four of UFC appearances handily, but faced with an upgrade in competition, was outclassed by Rodriguez.
The outcome caused a flip-flop in the UFC rankings, as Ribas dropped to No. 11, while Rodriguez (13-1-2) climbed to the doorstep of the top five. She will likely join that elite company should she get past Waterson, who has designs of her own for joining the title mix.
A five-year UFC veteran, Waterson (18-8) has been a perennial contender but has yet to notch a signature victory. She has struggled against upper-tier competition, with losses coming against Namajunas and former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who is now ranked second. Before edging past Hill, she was on the wrong side of a split decision against fourth-ranked Carla Esparza. You can only see who to back here.
UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson predictions
We'll give away one of Parker's UFC Fight Night picks here: He is backing Marcos Rogerio de Lima (-185) to emerge victorious against Maurice Greene (+165) in a meeting of heavyweight prospects.
Greene (9-5) caught the attention of UFC brass with his athleticism and versatility while winning a fight against Michel Batista on the scouting program "The Ultimate Fighter" in November 2018. The 34-year-old Virginia native won his first two UFC bouts but has struggled against upper-tier competition. Greene has dropped three of his last four and is coming off a stoppage defeat against former NFL player Greg Hardy in October.
Rogerio de Lima (17-7-1) is a seven-year UFC veteran who has similarly struggled to gain traction against quality competition. The 35-year-old Brazilian grappling specialist has alternated wins and losses since joining the UFC, going 5-5. He was submitted against Alexander Romanov in the first round of their November fight.
"Rogerio de Lima will have the advantage on the feet and an even bigger advantage on the ground. Green's hesitancy to let his hands go will only make it easier for Lima to close the distance and get the fight to the floor and dominate," Parker told SportsLine.
How to make UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson picks
Parker also has strong picks for Waterson vs. Rodriguez and other fights on the UFC fight card. He's backing a fighter with "unlimited cardio" who is set to deliver an emphatic victory. Those selections are only available at SportsLine.
Who wins Waterson vs. Rodriguez? And which fighter is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed UFC Fight Night picks, all from the ultimate insider who was up nearly $9,500 on MMA picks last year, and find out.
UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson odds
Marina Rodriguez (-200) vs. Michelle Waterson (+175)
Donald Cerrone (-125) vs. Alex Morono (+105)
Gregor Gillespie (-180) vs. Diego Ferreira (+160)
Amanda Ribas (-165) vs. Angela Hill (+145)
Marcos Rogerio de Lima (-185) vs. Maurice Greene (+165)
Geoff Neal (-185) vs. Neil Magny (+165)
Ben Rothwell (-110) vs. Philipe Lins (-110)
Kyle Daukas (-135) vs. Phil Hawes (+115)
Ryan Benoit (-145) vs. Zarrukh Adashev (+125)
Tafon Nchuwki (-140) vs. Jun Yong Park (+120)
Carlston Harris (-140) vs. Christian Aguilera (+120)