UFC Fight Night 194 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Mackenzie Dern vs. Marina Rodriguez
With four wins in a row, including three inside the first round by submission, Dern now appears to be in full stride as she looks to climb to the summit of the strawweight rankings, while Rodriguez is only one place behind her after back-to-back wins earlier this year.
Rodriguez will be well aware of the threat the BJJ ace offers on the mat and so she’ll be looking to utilize her solid takedown defense here and make use of her 2″ height and reach advantage to keep Dern on the end of her punches from range.
Dern has improved upon her striking ability over time to compliment her natural power, but even so I do think Rodriguez is the better technician on the feet and would win out if the fight remains upright throughout the course of five rounds.
So it really boils down to whether Dern can get the fight where she wants it, and it’s far from a guarantee as her takedown ability isn’t up to the level of her jiu-jitsu.
Nevertheless, With 25 minutes to work and knowing that one opportunity on the mat could be all she needs to pounce upon a submission, I’m going to take Dern to get the finish she’s hunting for in the early rounds of the fight.
Pick: Mackenzie Dern wins by submission in Rd2.
Randy Brown vs. Jared Gooden
Brown’s UFC record has been a bit patchy at times, but though he was KO’d by Vicente Luque last year, he has also picked up wins over the likes of Alex Oliveira, Warlley Alves and Bryan Barberena over the past couple of years.
Brown benefits from having skills in a number of areas, being able to offer up a solid finishing threat with his long, lanky striking style on the feet, while also having a submission game to go along with it, though there’s not always a smooth blend between those distinct aspects of his game.
As for Gooden, he got off to a bad start in the UFC with back-to-back losses, but has since rebounded with a 68 second KO victory last time out. As that would suggest he is a threat on the feet with his power, and like Brown he has a long reach to work with, while also having secured a few submission wins over the course of his career.
That being said, I do feel that Brown has the better skills overall here and will be competitive on the feet, but do his best work on the mat to fight his way to a decision victory.
Pick: Randy Brown wins by decision.
Tim Elliott vs. Matheus Nicolau
Three losses in a row ended Elliott’s first run in the UFC a few years ago, but after doing the same thing again during his second stint, he’s managed to turn things around this time by securing back-to-back decision wins.
The 34-year-old veteran continues to employ his familiar style in the cage, pushing a high pace while looking to get his opponent to the mat, where he is at his best with a grappling game that’ll see him effective in the scramble and offering up a submission threat.
That being said, Elliott has been tapped out a fair few times himself, while on the feet he’s very durable, but is no stranger to being rocked and having to battle his way out of bad situations.
Meanwhile, Nicolau comes into this fight on a three-fight winning streak and has a solid 6-1 record overall.
He’ll be looking to make his mark in the striking department here as she should have a significant advantage there, and importantly he does have good takedown defense, though he’s a capable grappler too.
I do think Nicolau’s ability to stuff takedowns could be crucial here and I see him being able to rough Elliott up on the feet, though in the end have to settle for a win on the scorecards.
Pick: Matheus Nicolau wins by decision.
Mariya Agapova vs. Sabina Mazo
These two fighters hold exactly the same career record heading into this fight at 9-2, although it should be noted that Mazo has the edge in terms of Octagon experience with a 3-2 run so far in the UFC, while Agapova is 1-1.
Agapova is also coming off a tough upset loss last time out as she was an overwhelming favorite to beat Shana Dobson, whose UFC record was only 1-4 at the time, yet the underdog emerged with a TKO victory.
That will surely have rocked Agapova’s confidence and does leave some question marks, although we’ve seen in the past that she can have success when she is the one going on the offensive, particularly on that mat via submissions. That being said, there are real lapses in her defensive ability both on the feet and in the wrestling department too.
Mazo is also coming off a loss, but there’s no shame in losing on the scorecards to a veteran like Alexa Davis. She has a slight advantage here over Agapova in terms of height and reach and appears to be the more effective fighter at range, while she’s capable in the clinch too. Mazo doesn’t have much in the way of finishing power though.
Both fighters here have their flaws, but I’m leaning towards Mazo here as I feel she can have success from range to edge out the striking battle and secure a decision victory.
Pick: Sabina Mazo wins by decision.
Phil Hawes vs. Deron Winn
Hawes is on a high coming into this one after winning three UFC fights in a row, while Winn will be relieved to have shaken off two losses in a row with a decision victory against Antonio Arroyo in his last outing, which was all the way back in December of last year.
There’s a huge size difference on display here, as Winn is short in stocky in stature, which means he’s going to be giving up 6″ in height and a whopping 7.5″ in reach to ‘Megatron’. With that in mind, it’s a bit of a headscratcher that Winn actually has had repeated troubles making weight at 185lbs and if he can’t get that under control he’ll surely be sent back to 205lbs.
Winn makes up for the size differential by being a powerful wrestler who will be relentless with his takedowns and can be very difficult to break free from once he has established positional control.
However, Hawes does have a wrestling background too and has solid takedown defense as a result, which benefits his striking game, where in addition to his massive size advantage, he is also a big finishing threat with both his punches and kicks.
As such, I feel Hawes what it takes to largely keep this fight on the feet and punish Winn from range with heavy strikes to emerge with a second round TKO victory.
Pick: Phil Hawes wins by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Chris Gutierrez vs. Felipe Colares
Jamie Pickett vs. Laureano Staropoli
Damon Jackson vs. Charles Rosa
Alexandr Romanov vs. Jared Vanderaa
Lupita Godinez vs. Sam Hughes
Felipe Colares vs. Chris Gutierrez
Steve Garcia vs. Charlie Ontiveros