Marina Rodriguez gets decision nod over Michelle Waterson

Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson stepped up to headline UFC on ESPN 24 on short notice to put on a five-round battle in Saturday night’s headliner.

Brazil’s Rodriguez prevailed over 25 minutes, effectively utilising her size advantage to outland and outpoint Waterson in this bout that was fought at 125 pounds, a division above their usual home at strawweight.

Muay Thai artist Rodriguez looked sharp throughout the contest, which impressive given how she had never fought beyond three rounds before.

The 34-year-old was found most of her success in the striking exchanges behind her punches and kicks at range, while being effective with elbows and knees when the fight was contested in close quarters.

Waterson never wavered, though. “The Karate Hottie” was dogged in her will to bring the fight to Rodriguez and try and reverse the course of the bout.

The fourth round, in particular, saw Waterson do her best work as she scored a takedown and punished Rodriguez with ground and pound for the majority of those five minutes.

Waterson also started the fifth stanza strong, landing a head kick and another one to the body that appeared to bother her opponent.

However, Rodriguez regrouped and finished the contest strong to ensure she left the Octagon with her hands raised.

All three judges saw the fight going in Rodriguez’s favour, submitting scores of 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46.


Alex Morono scores first-round TKO win against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone

Alex Morono seized his opportunity to get a win over a respected UFC name.

The Texan stepped in on short notice for Diego Sanchez to take on Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the night’s co-main event and took full advantage of his platform on ESPN.

Morono came out the gate aggressively and immediately found a home for his right hand against the WEC and UFC veteran.

Cerrone, a notoriously slow starter in his fights, also began the contest with purpose, landing some nice kicks to the body to counter Morono who looked to be on the front foot.

Cowboy tried to keep his opponent guessing, attempting to take the fight to the floor to utilise his underrated ground game, but Morono rebuffed his takedowns to keep the fight standing.

As the contest began to look like it was going to go beyond the first round, Morono stepped up the pressure.

“The Great White” countered a Cerrone jab with a hammering overhand right that landed flush and immediately had him hurt and in retreat.

Morono then followed up with a torrent of punches that Cerrone was unable to effectively defend before the contest was called to a halt.


Neil Magny edges Geoff Neal in three-round battle

Neil Magny rebounded to his January loss to Michael Chiesa with a tough-fought victory over Geoff Neal at UFC on ESPN 24.

Neal buzzed Magny with a series of left hands in the early stages of this bout, but Magny was able to weather the storm and neutralise the threat posed by his aggressive opponent with effective clinchwork against the cage.

“The Haitian Sensation” soon started to get the better of Neal in most of the striking exchanges after, effectively using his reach advantage to pick of Neal at range with both punches and kicks.

Effective clinch work, clever striking and well-timed takedowns, Magny was able to maintain a pace that looked to wear on Neal.

Texas native Neal was always on the hunt for either a finish or a fight-altering sequence to swing the momentum back in his favour, but Magny was effective in all facets of a mixed martial arts fight to seal victory in the minds of all three judges over 15 minutes.

Two judges scored the contest 29-28 to Magny, while the other gave all three rounds to the Elevation Fight Team representative (30-27) for a unanimous decision win.


UFC on ESPN 24: Rodriguez vs. Waterson full results

Women’s Flyweight: Marina Rodriguez def. Michelle Waterson by unanimous decision after five rounds
Welterweight: Alex Morono def. Donald Cerrone by TKO (punches) at 4:40 of round one
Welterweight: Neil Magny def. Geoff Neal by unanimous decision after three rounds
Heavyweight: Marcos Rogério de Lima def. Maurice Greene by unanimous decision after three rounds
Catchweight: Gregor Gillespie def. Carlos Diego Ferreira by TKO (punches) at 4:51 of round two
Middleweight: Phil Hawes def. Kyle Daukaus by unanimous decision after three rounds
Featherweight: Michael Trizano def. Ľudovít Klein by unanimous decision after three rounds
Middleweight: Jun Yong Park def. Tafon Nchukwi by majority decision after three rounds
Welterweight: Carlston Harris def. Christian Aguilera by Technical Submission (anaconda choke) at 2:52 of round one