Rodriguez overcame adversity both inside and outside of the octagon in order to get last night’s win over Waterson.
Rodriguez arrived in Las Vegas two days later than all of the other fighters on the card, having visa problems due to Covid-19 whilst travelling from her native Brazil to the USA for the fight.
The fight between Rodriguez and Waterson was an interesting match up stylistically, pitting Muay Thai and karate against each other.
Rodriguez started off the fight strong with her Muay Thai kickboxing prowess but struggled to finish off a durable Michelle Waterson. The self-styled ‘Karate Hottie’ and former Invicta atomweight champion staged a dramatic comeback and was resurgent in round 4, hurting Rodriguez with a powerful side kick to the body and managing to take Rodriguez down at one point in the fight.
However, Rodriguez was able to weather the storm and was also able to deny the vast majority of Waterson’s many takedown attempts. In the end, the two warriors went the distance and Rodriguez won by unanimous decision.
The victorious Rodriguez showed class after the fight by being full of praise and respect towards her opponent. “Waterson is so experienced” Rodriguez said. “That’s the thing I knew going into it. When she was Invicta champion, that was [around the same time] as my first Muay Thai class. I looked up to her, too. I knew she was very tough. To go five rounds with her and win, it’s an amazing feat for my career”.
Following her hard fought victory, Rodriguez said she wants a top 3 fighter next and mentioned the legendary former strawweight queen, Joanna Jedrzejcyzk, as a potential match up.
Stylistically, a fight between Rodriguez and Jedrzejcyzk would be a great match up due to both fighters being Muay Thai specialists. That fight would surely lead to fireworks and has all the makings of an instant classic should it happen.
However, there is the possibility that former champion Jedrzejcyzk will be more interested in regaining her throne with a title fight against the current UFC champion Rose Namajunes, who is coming off of a historic and spectacular win against Zhang Weili, with Thug Rose becoming the first woman to become a two-time UFC champion.
Rodriguez believes she is getting closer to a title shot of her own and a win over a legend like Jedrzejcyzk would certainly deliver that or at the very least, take Marina Rodriguez’s reputation to new heights and solidify her legacy. One thing is for sure after last night’s result, the strawweight division has a new contender with some serious momentum behind her.