Mackenzie Dern vs. Marina Rodriguez full preview and fight prediction

Two top UFC women’s strawweight contenders square off at UFC Vegas 39 in a prototypical striker vs. grappler matchup between Mackenzie Dern and Marina Rodriguez.

UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas will face Zhang Weili in a rematch later this year, but Mackenzie Dern and Marina Rodriguez will look to make a case for the next title shot at UFC Vegas 39.

Dern will make her first main event appearance against Rodriguez in a matchup of youth versus experience. Dern has looked nearly unstoppable in the strawweight division with four straight victories, including three by armbar submission.

Rodriguez is coming off her first main event experience at UFC Vegas 26 against Michelle Waterson, as she earned the unanimous decision victory. In addition to her elite kickboxing, Rodriguez has solid takedown defense and has shown the ability to avoid submission attempts.

Aside from Waterson, Rodriguez has put on dominant performances against the likes of Tecia Torres and Amanda Ribas. She’s been known to put a torrid pace on her opponents, to go along with great stamina to last a five-round bout.

Dern began her professional career going 8-0, including winning her first two fights in the UFC. Dern has shown some of the most dangerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the strawweight division.

Who will win at UFC Vegas 39: Mackenzie Dern or Marina Rodriguez?

What makes this matchup so exciting for fans is the fact that it’s a stereotypical striker vs. grappler matchup. Dern has shown vastly improved striking over her past few fights but she’s not nearly at the level of Rodriguez.

Dern will look to get the fight to the ground early, while Rodriguez will look to ‘lead the dance’ on the feet. Rodriguez won’t look for a takedown but has a great takedown defense at a 62% rate.

If Dern isn’t able to work into a scramble, it could be a long night in the octagon. Rodriguez has very technical boxing and uses her jab to dictate the range.

Rodriguez has the advantage of nearly a full strike landed per minute over Dern, while also absorbing less damage on the feet. Rodriguez will stuff Dern’s early takedown attempts and overwhelm her with her pace.

Prediction: Rodriguez via TKO, Round 3

UFC Vegas 39 takes place on Oct. 9, 2021, live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, NV. Follow along with FanSided who is on-site for all your live news and highlights.