Tue. Mar 21st, 2023

After a very lackluster main event last week, the UFC was back at the Apex. While it was only a nine-fight card, it was a good one. We got a real contender in the strawweight division in Marina Rodriguez. There were two knockouts, two submissions, and five decisions.

Here are fights to make for the winners and losers UFC Fight Night: Dern vs. Rodriguez

 Marina Rodriguez

Rodriguez survived a dangerous second round and defeated Mackenzie Dern via unanimous decision. Rodriguez is on a three-fight win streak and is on the brink of a strawweight title shot. While I do think Carla Esparza is ahead of her, a case can be made Rodriguez deserves it. There is a fight that needs to happen, however. Rodriguez needs to fight Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and I hope the UFC books it next. The striking in that fight would be ridiculous. However, Joanna isn’t too keen on fighting rising contenders at the moment. An Esparza rematch to be the No. 1 contender is also a great matchup. The strawweight division is awesome.

 Randy Brown

Brown defeated Jared Gooden via unanimous decision. ‘Rude Boy’ looked tremendous and was feeling himself throughout the fight. He is on another two-fight win streak, the third of his UFC career. Jon Anik was saying he is ready for a top 15 opponent, and while he certainly has the skill, I think he needs one more win. Brown should fight Kevin Lee next. Lee is a huge name and would solidify Brown.

Matheus Nicolau

 Nicolau defeated Tim Elliott via unanimous decision. Brazil’s Nicolau has been undefeated since his return to the promotion, something that was genuinely idiotic in the first place. He will be taking Elliott’s No. 9 flyweight ranking on Tuesday. I would like to see him fight No. 10 ranked David Dvorak, who is undefeated in the UFC and riding a 16-fight win streak.

Mariya Agapova

Agapova is back in the win column after taking more than a year off. She submitted Sabina Mazo in the third round after dropping her with a punch. Agapova looked phenomenal and really reinserted herself in the division and people’s minds. A new camp and being embarrassed by her last loss must have really sparked something inside of her. She called out Maryna Moroz during her post-fight interview, and it makes a lot of sense. If she doesn’t get that fight, a matchup with Molly McCann would be entertaining.

Chris Gutierrez

Gutierrez defeated Felipe Colares via split decision. There is no doubt that Gutierrez is one of the most underrated and not talked about enough fighters in the bantamweight division. He also has the most devastating leg kicks in the UFC. ‘El Guapo’ is getting very close to the bantamweight top 15 and might be a win or two away. A trilogy with Timur Valiev is very interesting, and I hope it happens next. Both fighters hold a win over each other.

Alexander Romanov

‘King Kong’ continues his dominance. He finished Jared Vanderaa via TKO in the second round. Romanov is now 4-0 in the UFC and needs a step up in competition. Honestly, I think he should fight a top 15 fighter next. No. 13 ranked Blagoy Ivanov would be the step up for Romanov. Ivanov has only been finished once in his career.

Damon Jackson

What an absolute blood bath. Jackson defeated Charles Rosa via unanimous decision after getting cut in the third round and leaked about seven tons of blood. Jackson is back in the win column after getting knocked out by top prospect Ilia Topuria. He is 2-1 since returning to the UFC. Omar Morales, who is coming off a submission loss, makes sense for Jackson and would be a good test.

Lupita Godinez

Loopy spoiled Silvana Gómez Juárez’s UFC debut as she submitted her in the first round. She picked up her first UFC win, and she looked utterly dominant doing it. The UFC could rebook Loopy and Sam Hughes, but I would prefer a fight with Jinh Yu Frey, who is riding a two-fight win streak.

Steve Garcia

After getting dropped twice in the first round, Garcia finished Charlie Ontiveros in the second round via TKO. ‘Mean Machine’ picked up his first UFC win and is now 1-1 in the UFC. Garcia looked good at lightweight, and I think he found his true home. Devonte Smith, who is coming off a TKO loss, would be a good fight for Garcia.

Mackenzie DernClaudia Gadelha

Jared GoodenImpa Kasanganay

Tim ElliottManel Kape

Sabina MazoHannah Goldy

Felipe ColaresKris Moutinho

Jared VanderaaChase Sherman

Charles RosaChase Hooper

Silvana Gómez JuárezGloria de Paula 

Charlie OntiverosOutside of the UFC



By Alex Behunin

Alex has been an avid fan of MMA since 2005. He watched The Ultimate Fighter and was hooked ever since. His work has been featured on BloodyCanvas, MMAProspects, MyMMANews, The Sundial, as well as his own 'Humanizing Athletes' series. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @Alexbehunin.