UFC Fight Night 194: Dern vs Rodriguez Predictions

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UFC Fight Night 194: Dern vs Rodriguez Predictions

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Thankfully the Gods have praised us and reduced this card to nine fights. That isn’t to say that the card won’t have fun fights. That is never usually the case with the low-tier Fight Night cards, more often than not they draw a higher percentage of highlight-reel finishes as prospects seek to make the most of their opportunity. Yet when the main event involves a Strawweight bout between Dern and Waterson, the future is unlikely to remember this coming Saturday.

Failed to catch the action from the last UFC? No worries. Peep our preview from las week via UFC Fight Night 193: Santos vs Walker Predictions. Prefer a review of the event to jog the memory? Read MAFB: UFC Fight Night 193 Review.

Unconvinced by Pintsized’s mystical predicting powers? Take a look at our prediction success last month detailed in UFC Predictions Results: August 2021.

Man, if you get out-wrestled by Kevin Holland on route to a TKO slam loss, it's a sign to hang up the gloves | UFC Fight Night 194
Man, if you get out-wrestled by Kevin Holland on route to a TKO slam loss, it’s a sign to hang up the gloves | UFC Fight Night 194

UFC Fight Night 194
Main Event

Marina Rodriguez (14-1-2) vs Mackenzie Dern (11-1)

Women’s Flyweight (125)

Marina Rodriguez

Rodriguez represents the superior striker, but more importantly, the plus athlete in this match-up. Taking note of Dern’s loss to Amanda Ribas, Rodriguez needs to draw upon her physicality to keep the fight standing. Firstly, Rodriguez needs to earn Dern’s respect early on the feet. Despite the veteran’s flat footwork, her far superior technical boxing will regularly time Dern’s simple forward momentum onto hard counters.

Volume also needs to take centre stage. In Rodriguez’s victories over Michelle Waterson, Jessica Aguilar and Tecia Torres, the Brazilian secured decisions based on activity. Out-striking all three aforementioned opponents by almost double the strikes landed, Rodriguez has to fly out of the blocks with intent. By dictating the pace, Rodriguez can tame Dern’s face-first power strikes into a cleaner, out-fighting affair. Rodriguez may have a respectable TDD but striking must remain the first level of defence against.

Mackenzie Dern

Finally, Dern is emerging as a fighter that is easier to back as a hot prospect. The Brazilian’s skill on the mat needs no introduction. Hannah Cifers, Randa Markos and Nina Nunes can all vouch for Dern’s serpent-like BJJ skills. Key to Dern’s four-fight streak, however, has been increased aggression on the feet. Dern’s boxing remains incredibly simple, yet there is now a clear approach to dictating the direction of fights. Due to Dern’s dreadful wrestling, her slightly less awful striking has seen a huge boost to her early-round threat.

As seen against Virna Jandiroba, Dern is a tough cookie that can survive on the feet in search of the takedown. Jandiroba is light years away from Rodriguez in regards to crisp striking, but the awkward power-puncher can crack from unorthodox angles. Perhaps of greatest interest was Dern’s ability to out-muscle Nina Nunes in the clinch. As soon as the fight hit the mat, Dern out-foxed the veteran into giving up mount from where Dern’s pitter-patter strikes were used only as a vehicle to the armbar.

Predicted Result: Dern Submission Round 4

Rodriguez represents the superior striker, but more importantly, the plus athlete in this match-up. Taking note of Dern’s loss to Amanda Ribas, Rodriguez needs to draw upon her physicality to keep the fight standing. Volume also needs to take centre stage. Rodriguez’s ability to out-strike Michelle Waterson, Jessica Aguilar and Tecia Torres needs to be replicated once again. By dictating the pace, Rodriguez can tame Dern’s face-first power strikes into a cleaner, out-fighting affair.

Dern’s chin may well prove vital in buying time for the Brazilian BJJ specialist before she can force the fight to the mat. An increased aggression on the feet since the Ribas loss has been welcome, now more clearly commanding the direction of fights. Dreadful wrestling remains an issue, however. Dern’s ability to out-muscle Nina Nunes in the clinch has me siding with Dern eventually getting to the ground from where her sublime grappling will eventually find the finish.

When your arm is bent the opposite direction, it's time to tap | UFC Fight Night 194
When your arm is bent the opposite direction, it’s time to tap | UFC Fight Night 194

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UFC Fight Night 194
Co-Main Event

Randy Brown (13-4) vs Jared Gooden (18-6)

Welterweight (170)

Randy Brown

Time is slowly running out on whether Brown can emerge as a genuine threat at Welterweight. The Queen’s fighter has sharpened his tools throughout his stop-start career, and there are several positives to take from his last victory against Alex Oliveira. Finally taking note of his freak 6’3″ size, Brown walked the veteran down and used his length to bully the crafty counter-striker. Brown’s weak-ish chin may pose an issue with his newfound motivation to set the pace, yet the TKO losses suffered have come from some of the hardest hitters at 170lbs (Niko Price, Vicente Luque).

Jared Gooden

I keep hearing about a large fanbase behind Jared Gooden, stemming from his rampant stoppage streak in the regionals, yet I just cannot see what it is to get excited about. Sure, the Stolze finish was entertaining, but NiteTrain has twice shown before that his leaky striking defence will keep him capped at unranked roster dweller. Gooden carries his heavy hands late into fights but he has often absorbed so much damage during the early rounds that he is unable to gain a foothold. An aged, Alan Jouban, pieced apart Gooden on the feet with straight shots and fluid movement. Brown lacks the buttery smooth footwork of Jouban, but his length and aggression on the feet should beat Gooden in every early exchange. It’s too difficult to bank on Gooden’s power cracking a sometimes disorganised, sometimes disciplined Brown.

Predicted Result: Brown TKO Round 2

Despite Brown’s stop-start career, it would appear the Queen’s fighter has learnt from his career setbacks. Finally taking note of his freak 6’3″ size, Brown walked Alex Oliveira down and used his length to bully the crafty counter-striker. Gooden carries his heavy hands late into fights but he has often absorbed so much damage during the early rounds that he is unable to gain a foothold.

Brown’s weak-ish chin may pose an issue with his newfound motivation to set the pace, yet the TKO losses suffered have come from some of the hardest hitters at 170lbs. If an aged, Alan Jouban, pieced apart Gooden on the feet – Brown’s length and aggression on the feet should match Gooden in every early exchange. It’s too difficult to bank on Gooden’s power cracking a sometimes disorganised, sometimes disciplined Brown.

Randy Brown uses his long limbs to put the fear of God in Cowboy Oliveira | UFC Fight Night 194
Randy Brown uses his long limbs to put the fear of God in Cowboy Oliveira | UFC Fight Night 194

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UFC Fight Night 194
Main Card

Tim Elliot (17-11-1) vs Matheus Nicolau (16-2-1)

Flyweight (125)

Tim Elliot

If anybody cared about Flyweight these days, besides Morono and Figueiredo, then this is as exciting a match-up as they come. Elliot used to be the first-round guy, throwing everything and the kitchen sink during the opening sequences in sole search for the finish. As a result, Elliot found himself out-endured by the likes of Demetrious Johnson and Askar Askarov, or caught by savvier technicians in Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Royval. Since moving to James Krause’s gym, however, more thoughtful approaches in the cage will follow. Jordan Espinosa isn’t a top-quality opponent, but Elliot smartly tired Espinosa against the cage during the first round before finding takedowns with ease in the second. More fights are necessary to believe that Elliot is a changed man under Krause, but the signs are positive.

Matheus Nicolau

The Brazilian deserves more attention. Belying his twenty-eight years of age, Nicolau is an incredibly disciplined counter-striker. Wonderfully well-rounded, Nicolau’s TDD should be capable of stuffing early Elliot aggression and punishing the American deep into the fight. Elliot’s zombie-like durability will see him attempting to drag Nicolau into an ugly brawl, but the Brazilian has the perfect opportunity to showcase his mature, patient striking superiority. Nicolau’s inside leg kicks will frustrate the American’s natural forward pressure, perhaps breaking Elliot’s newfound patient mental and forcing him back to his scrappy brawling.

Predicted Result: Nicolau Decision

Since moving to James Krause’s gym, Tim Elliot appears more thoughtful in the cage and able to link together his bag of tricks. Elliot smartly tired Jordan Espinosa against the cage during the first round before finding takedowns and the finish with ease in the second. Still, it is difficult to look past Nicolau. Belying his twenty-eight years of age, Nicolau is an incredibly disciplined counter-striker with TDD capable of stuffing early Elliot aggression and punishing the American deep into the fight. Nicolau’s inside leg kicks will frustrate the American’s natural forward pressure, breaking Elliot into reverting back to his scrappy brawling.

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Mariya Agapova (9-2) vs Sabina Mazo (9-2)

Women’s Flyweight (125)

Mariya Agapova

Hahaha. If anyone cares to remember, I tore apart the UFC for matching Agapova with Dobson, believing it to be a dangerous squash match between prospect and proven can. Ironically, as the MMA Gods often are, Dobson delivered a second-round knockout over the far too aggressive Agapova. Mazo, a far more patient technician, will tear the young Kazakhstani apart if she rushes head-strong into another fight. I imagine after taking a year out of the sport, we will be seeing a completely new Agapova in the octagon on Saturday. This is all guesswork, however, so Agapova’s awful conditioning and pacing have to be considered gravely in this match-up.

Sabina Mazo

The young Colombian Queen represents an exciting late-round threat with the perfect style to stomp Agapova. Despite her loss to Alexis Davis, there is a reason prospects take challenging stylistic fights early in their career. Mazo was piecing apart the ancient Canadian on the feet but switched off on takedowns to close off the rounds. Agapova is unlikely to have as much dog in her to walk through Mazo’s volume to shoot, however. Mazo’s straight into lead uppercut is a surprisingly common burst that almost always lands – perhaps it is due to Mazo’s constant jab clouding an opponent’s vision.

Predicted Result: Mazo Decision

The young Colombian Queen represents an exciting late-round threat with the perfect style to stomp Agapova. Even after taking a year out since her shock loss to Shana Dobson, Agapova’s awful conditioning and pacing have to be considered gravely in this match-up. Despite losing to Alexis Davis, Mazo still pieced apart the ancient Canadian, losing largely due to mental switch-offs to late takedowns.

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UFC Fight Night 194
Preliminary Card

Chris Gutierrez (16-3-2) vs Felipe Colares (10-2)

Bantamweight (135)

Chris Gutierrez

Hell yeah, the leg kicking blood God is back. A stifling striking offence, Gutierrez fights hard to hold control over the pace. While that pace may then turn into a bit-piece striking affair, largely set behind a solid jab and leg kick, this only benefits the Texan’s concussive power. Sure, this isn’t highlight-reel knockout power. Gutierrez’s significant damage, instead, strips opponents of their best weapons and forces them to fight to Gutierrez’s advantages. Regular stance-switching lends itself to Gutierrez’s hard kicks that catch opponent’s unaware from new channels.

Felipe Colares

Colares’ style doesn’t lend itself to healthy MMA careers and as such, whirlwind UFC ranking rises, but his tendency to drag opponents into scrappy wars is a canny skill. A solid athlete, Colares rides his chin till he can eventually pull a takedown out of thin air. Weak wrestling simply won’t suffice against Gutierrez. Colares’ flashy head kicks won’t make Gutierrez gun-shy. Worse yet for Colares, his tendency to shell up and move back on a straight line will not appear positively to judges. A strong chin and huge heart will ensure this turns into a banger by the third round, though.

Predicted Result: Gutierrez Decision

A stifling striking offence, Gutierrez fights hard to hold control over the pace. While that pace may then turn into a bit-piece striking affair, largely set behind a solid jab and leg kick, this only benefits the Texan’s concussive power. Colares is a solid athlete who rides his chin till he can eventually pull a takedown out of thin air. Weak wrestling simply won’t suffice against Gutierrez. Flashy head kicks and moving back on a straight line will allow Gutierrez to win off of his jab and single-shot kicks.

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Alexander Romanov (14-0) vs Jared Vanderaa (12-5)

Heavyweight (265)

Alexander Romanov

Hahaha. Why on Earth is this step-down occurring? Romanov has secured scalps over Juan Espino and Marcos Rogerio de Lima. Why then has the UFC set up Romanov against an opponent who was squashed with ease by Sergey Spivak? Such is the state of the Heavyweight division. The big Moldovan bear is a terrifying early-round power wrestling threat. Espino exposed Romanov’s flailing gas tank, leaky striking defence and limited defensive grappling. Unfortunately, in this division, there aren’t many who can stop Romanov’s early pressure.

Jared Vanderaa

Big Jared Vanderaa is somehow 2-1 in his utterly forgettable UFC career. It doesn’t help that his proposed ‘knockout first shot’ affair with Justin Tafa ended with a sloppy decision. Vanderaa is a composed boxer when allowed to set the pace, as Tafa so kindly allowed him, but this won’t be the case against Romanov. Vanderaa will struggle to survive the first round, without any skills to get back up when the Moldovan Michelin Man is on top of him.

Predicted Result: Romanov TKO Round 1

The big Moldovan bear is a terrifying early-round power wrestling threat. Espino exposed Romanov’s flailing gas tank and leaky striking defence but aren’t many in the division who can stop Romanov’s early pressure. Vanderaa is a solid boxer when allowed to set the pace, as Justin Tafa so kindly allowed, but this won’t be the case against Romanov. He lacks the defensive grappling required to get back up when the Moldovan Michelin Man is on top of him.

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Charles Rosa (14-5) vs Damon Jackson (18-4-1)

Featherweight (145)

Charles Rosa

Boston Strong is on his way out of the big leagues. It’s a shame to see, but Rosa’s physical decline is coinciding with increasing willingness to simply survive in fights. Happy to throw volume off his back-foot or chance his arm with competent defensive grappling on the mat, the thoroughly negative style only lends itself to scrappy split decisions (wins or losses). Rosa was able to survive against the wildly unorthodox submission arsenal of Bryce Mitchell, however, Jackson’s methodical approach and experience may pose a different set of problems on the mat.

Damon Jackson

As the far more aggressive, positive fighter in this match-up, if Jackson can maintain his mental against a frustrating opponent, he will be able to win a typically bully-like performance. While it was great to see Jackson humbled at the hands of Ilia Topuria, one fight after his pathetic celebration against Mirsad Bektic, it’s time to see The Leech kick on in the UFC. Jackson’s entertaining ground game in search for submissions is always welcome entertainment, while his lengthy frame has great potential to develop into a decent threat. Expecting Jackson to get the W in a dull fight, stifled by Rosa’s negative style.

Predicted Result: Jackson Decision

Rosa’s physical decline is coinciding with increasing willingness to simply survive in fights. Happy to throw volume off his back-foot or chance his arm with competent defensive grappling on the mat, the thoroughly negative style only lends itself to scrappy split decisions (wins or losses). If Jackson can maintain his mental against a frustrating opponent, he will be able to win a typically bully-like performance.

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Lupita Godinez (5-1) vs Silvana Gomez Juarez (10-2)

Women’s Strawweight (115)

Lupita Godinez

Size will prove an issue throughout Godinez’s career. A strong technical boxer, Godinez’s problems were exhibited in her UFC debut against Jessica Penne. At just 5’2″, Godinez will always find herself within clinching range against opponents if she wants to trade up close. Not every fighter will be quite as competent in the clinch as Penne, and Godinez’s wrestling development are positive signs. Godinez’s love of tear ups in the pocket is good, stupid fun in a division usually devoid of entertainment.

Silvana Gomez Juarez

A UFC call-up on late notice is often a major detrimental factor, yet Juarez is a willing striker who will bring the war to the octagon. Despite defeats to Ariane Lipski and Poliana Botelho, the experience gained against now solid UFC names highlight Gomez’s ability to go a total of seven rounds against the two. At thirty-six years old, Gomez has to fall onto a perfect career run if she wants to make anything of her UFC call-up. Gomez’s total dedication to straight shots on the feet should gel well with Godinez’s bobbing forward pressure and short shots on the inside.

Predicted Result: Godinez Decision

A late-notice call up for a thirty-six year old is never usually a positive sign but Gomez will allow Goinez to shine. Despite defeats to Ariane Lipski and Poliana Botelho, the experience gained in the regionals against now solid UFC names highlight Gomez’s ability. Godinez’s volume and tenacity in the pocket should gel well with Gomez’s total dedication to straight shots.

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Charlie Ontiveros (11-7) vs Steve Garcia (11-4)

Lightweight (155)

Charlie Ontiveros

Bruh, how has Ontiveros made weight lol. The man was a skeleton at Middleweight, I cannot imagine how he will visibly appear in the octagon on Saturday. Ontiveros’s long frame is used in a kickboxing stance which opens up an arsenal of exquisite stikes. Axe kicks and spinning elbows all start from unorthodox angles which left top counter-striker, Kevin Holland, opting for the takedown. A TDD based around the guillotine, however, isn’t a solid option in a division littered with wrestling threats.

Steve Garcia

Nothing better than a fighter who looks to, and critically, loves to, thrive in the pocket. Ontiveros despises pressure, his lack of evasive footwork evidence this fact. Steve Garcia is unlikely to have such a clear path to victory through his natural style. If Garcia can wear shots from Ontiveros that he is unlikely to see, the New Mexican native should be able to break Ontiveros.

Predicted Result: Garcia TKO Round 2

Critically, Ontiveros’ already ineffectual durability will be further compromised at Lightweight. The skeleton’s long frame and exquisite arsenal of strikes are entertaining, but he despises pressure. Garcia will be more than happy to wear the odd shot in search of the pocket and dragging Ontiveros into a gritty war.

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