UFC Vegas 64: Rodriguez Staying Active While Lemos Looks For Major Upset

Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Lemos, UFC Vegas 64
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 04: (L-R) Opponents Marina Rodriguez of Brazil and Amanda Lemos of Brazil face off during the UFC weigh-in at UFC APEX on November 04, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Marina Rodriguez has established herself as one of the top talents in the game today and she will be looking to add to her impressive resume while her countrywoman Amanda Lemos looks to score an epic upset at UFC Vegas 64.

In an era where contenders are encouraged more than ever to make smart business decisions, staying active when a title shot is virtually guaranteed is a rarity.  For Marina Rodriguez, the strawweight landscape has now led to two additional bouts after she has already cemented her place as the top contender in the division.  While she could easily have not fought this Saturday and await the winner of next week’s title bout, her willingness to add to her resume has made her a more high profile contender than before and makes a potential title bout for her all the more anticipated.

Though Rodriguez’s record would make it appear as if her route to the title was a straight line upward, the truth was that her breakthrough was a slow build.  After going 10-0 to eventually reach the UFC through Dana White’s Contender Series: Brazil, Rodriguez struggled to build strong momentum.  She went 2-1-2, opening her time in the UFC with a draw before winning back-to-back fights before going to another draw and suffering her first career loss.  In 2021, she put herself on the map with a knockout of fan-favorite Amanda Ribas and rattled off victories over the likes of Michelle Waterson, Mackenzie Dern, and Yan Xiaonan to establish her place in the pecking order.

While she is a new player to the upper echelon of the strawweight division, Amanda Lemos has quietly been working her way into the conversation.  “Amandinha” kicked off her professional career with a 5-0-1 mark, a strong run made all the more impressive considering she was competing at bantamweight and only lost to one of the veterans of women’s mixed martial arts in Leslie Smith in 2017.  A USADA suspension followed afterward, putting her career on hold for two years and halting her momentum after arriving in the world’s largest promotion.

Upon her return in 2019, Lemos enjoyed a career renaissance as she moved down two weight classes to 115 pounds and rattled off consecutive victories over Angela Hill, Montserrat Ruiz, Livinha Souza, Mizuki Inoue, and Miranda Granger.  The run led to her first UFC headliner earlier this year where she found herself on the wrong end of a first round submission against former champion Jessica Andrade.  While the loss was the proverbial bucket of cold water on the heat she had generated for her career, she bounced back in impressive fashion with a second round submission of Michelle Waterson.  Lemos now finds herself with a huge opportunity as the matchup with Rodriguez is not only another headliner but is a chance to immediately leap into title contention with a victory.

A victory for Rodriguez would only further make her case for a shot at the strawweight title, with it be a rematch against the only woman to ever give her a loss in Carla Esparza or against a new opponent in Zhang Weili.  A victory for Lemos could grant her a title shot as well, particularly if Zhang were to emerge victorious next week.  Should she need another bout before fighting for the title, then the loser of next week’s championship bout or a fight with Rose Namajunas or Yan Xiaonan would make the most sense to help her secure a shot at the belt.


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