Michelle Waterson says one thing her experience in the UFC has taught her is to be ready to accept an opportunity on a moment's notice. The popular ninth-ranked strawweight didn't hesitate when the promotion asked her to take a fight on Saturday against sixth-ranked Marina Rodriguez in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson. Their battle closes the card on the MMA showcase from the Apex facility in Las Vegas, and the main UFC fight card is set for 8 p.m. ET. Both fighters stepped up with just a couple of weeks to prepare after former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw withdrew from the previously scheduled main event against Cory Sandhagen because of an injury.
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, record-setting brawler Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone (-170) faces prospect Alex Morono (+150) in a welterweight matchup. Before making any picks of your own for UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson, make sure you see the MMA predictions from SportsLine analyst Kyle Marley.
Marley won the first-ever "ToutMaster" UFC betting contest sponsored by MMAOddsBreaker and appears regularly on multiple MMA betting and daily Fantasy shows. He watches every single fight for every professional MMA card and does extensive research before each event.
Over the past 27 months, $100 bettors who have followed Marley's picks are up more than $19,000. The accomplished MMA analyst has now connected on 30 of his last UFC 46 main-event picks, a stretch that includes a streak of five straight underdogs dating back to early 2020.
Last week at UFC Fight Night, Marley told SportsLine members to back rising Sean Strickland against Krzysztof Jotko (+210) in a battle of middleweight prospects. Strickland controlled the action from the outset and took a unanimous decision to give Marley's followers another easy winner. Anyone who has consistently followed Marley is way up.
Now, with UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson fast approaching, Marley has carefully studied every matchup on the card, identified the best value in the UFC odds and released his MMA picks for every fight. Those UFC picks are only available at SportsLine.
UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson preview
Marley knows both fighters will be eager to take advantage of the increased exposure provided by the main-event spotlight, even with limited preparation time. Waterson is familiar with this position, as she did the same last year against fellow veteran Angela Hill and delivered an action-packed fight for five rounds. Waterson edged a razor-thin split decision and both combatants received Fight of the Night honors.
Waterson (18-8), who is known for her karate and Jiu-Jitsu skills, has won four of six overall. An upset win over Rodriguez might propel the 35-year-old Colorado native into the top five of the UFC rankings.
Rodriguez (13-1-2) will look to continue what appears to be a fast track towards a title shot. Her lone defeat in six UFC appearances came against former champion Carla Esparza, who also has defeated Waterson.
The 34-year-old Brazilian also has two draws on her UFC ledger, but is coming off her most impressive performance to date. She stopped fellow contender Amanda Ribas in the second round of their January fight and was rewarded with a top-10 ranking. You can only see Marley's coveted Rodriguez vs. Waterson picks here.
UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson predictions
We'll share one of Marley's UFC Fight Night selections here: He is backing Geoff Neal (-185) to get a stoppage victory against Neil Magny (+165) in a matchup of welterweight contenders.
Neal (13-3) emerged as a rising contender on the strength of five consecutive victories to start his UFC career, with four coming by stoppage. His power and explosiveness were on display in stoppage wins over rugged sluggers like Mike Perry and Niko Price. Even so, the 30-year-old Texan saw his momentum take a blow when he was outclassed by fourth-ranked Stephen Thompson in their December fight. He lost a lopsided unanimous decision.
Neal faces a stylistic challenge in Magny (24-8), an eight-year UFC veteran who is known as one of the division's best grapplers. Magny has never fought for a UFC title, but is tied for the promotion's record with five victories in one calendar year.
"Neal is the much better striker and has the balance and takedown defense to keep this on the feet. Magny's best chance is to get takedowns and try to grind out a decision," Marley told SportsLine. "I don't think he will have more than one round of success with that, so I am going to take Neal to get a knockout."
How to make UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson picks
Marley also has strong picks for Rodriguez vs. Waterson and every other bout on the UFC Fight Night card. He's also backing one fighter who is "more dangerous" to get a convincing knockout victory. Those selections are only available at SportsLine.
Who wins Rodriguez vs. Waterson? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC Fight Night, all from the incomparable expert who's up more than $19,000 on MMA in the past 27 months, and find out.
UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Waterson odds
Marina Rodriguez (-200) vs. Michelle Waterson (+175)
Donald Cerrone (-170) vs. Alex Morono (+150)
Geoff Neal (-185) vs. Neil Magny (+165)
Gregor Gillespie (-180) vs. Diego Ferreira (+160)
Marcos Rogerio de Lima (-185) vs. Maurice Greene (+165)
Amanda Ribas (-165) vs. Angela Hill (+145)
Ben Rothwell (-110) vs. Philipe Lins (-110)
Kyle Daukas (-135) vs. Phil Hawes (+115)
Ludovit Klein (-230) vs. Michael Trizano (+195)
Ryan Benoit (-145) vs. Zarrukh Adashev (+125)
Tafon Nchuwki (-140) vs. Jun Yong Park (+120)
Carlston Harris (-140) vs. Christian Aguilera (+120)