Waterson the underdog against Rodriguez for main event clash

Michelle Waterson, right, punches Paige VanZant during their strawweight fight in December 2016. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

Two fighters coming off bonus-worthy victories will clash on Saturday when Marina Rodriguez takes on fellow women’s strawweight contender Michelle Waterson in the main event at UFC Vegas 26 as a -210 favourite on the UFC odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Rodriguez is coming off a decisive TKO victory over Amanda Ribas at UFC 257 that earned her a Performance of the Night bonus, and marked her first win in three octagon appearances going into Saturday night’s bout at UFC Apex.

The 34-year-old Brazilian was a dominating force when she opened her professional MMA career, starting out with an epic 10-0 run. However, Rodriguez has struggled to maintain that momentum since making a splash in her UFC debut with a first-round TKO win over Maria de Oliveira Neta on Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil.

Currently set as the No. 6 contender in the UFC women’s strawweight rankings, Rodriguez has amassed just a 3-1-2 record over her past six fights. That run has featured matchups with Randa Markos and Cynthia Calvillo that have ended in majority draws, and a heartbreaking split decision loss to Carla Esparza at UFC Fight Island 3 that marked her first defeat as a pro. Overall, Rodriguez has seen eight of her past 10 contests settled by the judges, which marks a sea change after finishing opponents in five of her first six career fights.

Listed as a +170 underdog for Saturday night at online betting sites, Waterson aims to build on her narrow split decision win over Angela Hill at UFC Vegas 10, which also earned her a Fight of the Night bonus. That victory extended Waterson’s run of fights that have gone the distance to seven, and it was the second time in three outings that she has gone a full five rounds.

Waterson has produced mixed results over that stretch, compiling a 4-3 record. She has also seen the judges come to a split decision on three occasions over her past six fights, getting the nod on two occasions. However, Waterson has consistently come up short when facing top-ranked opponents, with her four losses since joining the UFC coming against Esparza, reigning UFC women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas, former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Tecia Torres.

Elsewhere on the UFC betting lines for Saturday night, Donald Cerrone will try once again to snap a five-fight winless streak as he takes on Alex Morono in welterweight action as -165 chalk. Welterweights will also take centre stage as Geoff Neal battles Neil Magny as a -190 betting favourite. In addition, Ribas will try to rebound from her recent loss to Rodriguez as she faces off against Hill sporting short -185 odds.

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