Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"
Last time we saw Boston's "Slow" Mike Rodriguez (11-5) in action he beat the brakes off 22 fight UFC veteran Ed "Short Fuse" Herman (25-14) for thirteen and a half of their bout's fourteen minute duration. Rodriguez appeared to have finished Herman late in the second round when some battering clinch work from MRod culminated in a knee to the midsection that looked like the end of Herman's fuse. However, instead of stopping the contest due to the clear TKO at hand, referee Chris Tognoni instead called timeout, declaring that the knee landed low when connecting with Herman (replay clearly shows the contrary), and allowing Ed Herman time to recover. After another impressive opening 3:50 of the third round, it looked like all Rodriguez would have to do is survive the round to score a decisive Unanimous Decision, even after the setback in the second round.
Rodriguez had top position over the grounded Herman as minutes ticked to seconds, the crafty veteran Herman went for broke, as he attempted to harvest the left arm of Rodriguez and pull the carpet from beneath the New Englander's third UFC victory. Herman used the Kimura attempt to sweep Rodriguez, and landed in side control where he was able to pass the head of Rodriguez and apply enough torque to Mike's shoulder to force the tap with just under a minute left on the clock.
Although Rodriguez was denied the taste of victory last September, the Lauzon MMA product remained focused on becoming the best athlete he could be this camp, knowing full well that opportunity would come knocking again soon. Well that opportunity comes Saturday night from the UFC's Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada as Rodriguez will make the walk to the UFC Octagon once again looking to leave little question as to the direction his career is trending. This time, his foe; 6'6" Brazilian finisher Danilo Marques (10-2, 1-0 UFC) will be making his second UFC appearance and will be looking to keep his three fight win streak intact. Marques broke into the UFC just two weeks after the Rodriguez vs. Herman debacle with a Unanimous Decision victory over Khadis Ibragimov at UFC 253: Adesanya v. Costa.
For Rodriguez there is a clear path to victory in this contest, and that lies in his dangerous clinch game, Rodriguez has some sharp, high-level Thai Plum/Clinch offense, and against the 6'6" Marques he will need to use that clinch to cover the distance. Once inside Rodriguez will hand out a consistent diet of fists, knees and elbows that have lead the Bostonian to his two knockouts inside the Octagon. Time will tell but if "Slow" Mike can find his range early, this could be a "quick" night at the office for the bounce back minded MRod who sets his sites on UFC Knockout number three.
The 32 year old Mike Rodriguez comes in as a slight betting favorite against the 35 year old Brazilian, as a win here would help relieve the agony of having his last fight virtually stolen from his grasp. These Light-Heavyweights agree to meet at 205 pounds this Friday, before once again meeting in the center of the combat sports world Saturday night in Vegas as part of the preliminary card that begins at 5pm eastern on ESPN+. Thirteen bouts are scheduled to go down Saturday night at the UFC Apex leading to a Main Event pitting Number 5 ranked Heavyweight Alistar Overeem (47-18) against Number 6 ranked Alexander Volkov (32-8) as both big men look to continue their climb towards a Heavyweight Title shot. Below is a look at the entire UFC Fight Night Overeem vs. Volkov fight card;
Main Event: Alistair Overeem vs. Alexander Volkov
Co-Main Event: Cory Sandhagen vs. Frankie Edgar
Alexandre Pantoja vs. Manel Kape
Cody Stamann vs. Askar Askar
Diego Ferreira vs. Beneil Dariush
Michael Johnson vs. Clay Guida
Mike Rodriguez vs. Danilo Marques
Timur Valiev vs. Martin Day
Justin Jaynes vs. Devonte Smith
Catchweight 160 lbs
Karol Rosa vs. Joselyne Edwards
Molly McCann vs. Lara Procópio
Youssef Zalal vs. Seung Woo Choi
Ode Osbourne vs. Jerome Rivera