UFC Vegas 39 wasn’t what you’d call a stacked card — far from it. But the Fight Night event punched up in weight, including a few highly entertaining bloodbaths, and saw women sweep the post-fight bonuses for the first time in UFC history.
In the main event, Mackenzie Dern came up short in a litmus test against Marina Rodriguez. What’s next for the BJJ ace? It’s time to play matchmaker for Dern and other main card fighters who fell short on Saturday.
Mackenzie Dern rode a strong four-fight win streak into UFC Vegas 39’s main event, but lost a unanimous decision to Marina Rodriguez. Dern’s grappling in the second round was a spectacle to behold, but that’s to be expected from someone with her qualifications in BJJ. The question now becomes, where does Dern go from here? She was out-struck by Rodriguez and struggled to close the distance for takedowns throughout most of the fight. Ranked #4 ahead of the fight, she’s likely to slip back a spot or two.
What’s really wild is, prior to the Rodriguez fight, there was talk of Dern moving to flyweight and being a test for Valentina Shevchenko, who has never fought someone with Mackenzie’s grappling credentials. But if she can’t get the fight down, it appears Dern will continue to struggle until she shores up her striking game.
A smart option here is Yan Xiaonan. The Chinese fighter last fought in March, where she was finished by Carla Esparza. A Sanda expert, she’ll test Dern on the feet, and give us a chance to see what lessons were learned from UFC Vegas 39. She was tied with Dern in the rankings prior to this weekend, and the winner will instantly be back in the hunt.
Dern’s next fight: Yan Xiaonan
Jared Gooden missed weight for his UFC Vegas 39 co-feature with Randy Brown, then lost the fight on top of that. Never a good look. Gooden is now 1-3 in his last four, which comprises the entirety of his UFC run. On a deeper card, he’s nowhere near the top of the bill, and unfortunately, he wasn’t able to take advantage of the spotlight.
Gooden may well find himself fighting for his job next time out. But since he’s coming off something of a high profile fight, why not tap him for Gunnar Nelson’s return? Nelson has been sitting out since 2019. He had been aiming to return in the first half of 2021, but that hasn’t happened. Like Gooden, he’s 1-3 in his last four. Book these two unranked welterweights, and see who still has more upside.
Gooden’s next fight: Gunnar Nelson
Former UFC flyweight title challenger and TUF: Tournament of Nations winner Tim Elliott is rarely in a bad fight. At UFC Vegas 39, he came up just short against Matheus Nicolau, something coach James Krause took the blame for. The loss snapped Elliott’s two-fight win streak, so he’ll be looking to bounce back. Our suggestion, fellow top 15 flyweight Tyson Nam.
Elliott and Nam were supposed to fight last year, but the bout was scratched as Elliott was on a medical suspension from his previous fight. Nam was expected to face Tagir Ulanbekov this past June, but that fell through when Ulanbekov fell ill. Nam’s available, Elliott probably won’t need too much time off, so this could happen by the end of the year.
Elliott’s next fight: Tyson Nam
After entering the UFC with a ton of hype following her LFA run, Sabina Mazo has posted a .500 average across six fights. That’s a great average in baseball, but not so much in mixed martial arts. Mazo has lost her last two, and she was beat up before being choked into submission by Mariya Agapova at UFC Vegas 39.
Mazo needs a bounce back fight, and needs to avoid the dreaded third straight loss. Gina Mazany is 1-2 in her second run with the UFC, and 2-5 overall inside the octagon. Mazany is coming off a loss in May against Priscila Cachoeira at UFC 262, and doesn’t appear to have a fight lined up. Mazany has looked better at flyweight than in her previous bantamweight run, and the pairing should show if “The Colombian Queen” still has that killer instinct.
Mazo’s next fight: Gina Mazany
Brazil’s Felipe Colares has traded wins and losses throughout his five-fight UFC career, and dropped a decision to Chris Gutierrez at UFC Vegas 39. TUF 29’s Liudvik Sholinian stepped into the octagon on short notice against Jack Shore last month, becoming Shore’s latest victim. With both fighters coming off a loss, it makes sense to pair these two bantamweights up.
Colares’ next fight: Liudvik Sholinian