Four reasons you can't afford to miss UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs Waterson this weekend on BT Sport

The fights keep on rolling in the UFC - and we've got another cracking card exclusively on BT Sport this Saturday night. Here's why you won't want to miss it!

By George Mills Published: 7 May 2021 - 12.14pm
Features UFC

Michelle Waterson

With TJ Dillashaw's long-awaited comeback against Cory Sandhagen shelved after a nasty cut in training, it's the women's flyweights who rescue the show in Vegas on Saturday night.

Marina Rodriguez faces Michelle Waterson in a hastily-arranged main event - but there could be huge ramifications for the title hopes of the victor under the bright lights in Fight City.

Read on for all you need to know to stay clued up ahead of the fights this coming weekend, live on BT Sport 1 HD from 11pm on Saturday.

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It’s getting busy in the women’s flyweight division

This weekend’s main event might see the crowning of the next women’s flyweight title challenger as number-six ranked Marina Rodriguez looks to stake her claim against number-nine ranked Michelle Waterson.

Rodriguez bounced back from a split decision loss to Carla Esparza in July last year with a bruising TKO victory against fellow Brazilian Amanda Ribas in January.

The 34-year-old, who came to the UFC via Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil, counts that defeat to Esparza as the only blemish on her professional ledger but with two draws since joining the promotion, Rodriguez will be keen to add another emphatic result to the win column.

Waterson, meanwhile, has been a mainstay of the women’s UFC rankings for almost six years, taking on a who’s who of top level athletes in that time.

A former Invicta FC atomweight champion, the 35-year-old has never challenged for a world title in the UFC but has aspirations of conquering the 125lb division she calls home before calling time on a fine career.

With a fluid landscape unfolding in the context of the flyweight rankings, Waterson will know that another victory to compliment her split decision besting of Angela Hill last time out could put her in pole position for another crack at the newly-(re)crowned queen, Rose Namajunas before too long.

Who will seize the chance to stake their claim for UFC gold next?

No ride off into the sunset for this Cowboy – yet…

There’s no doubt that the sun is setting on one of the finest MMA careers in history but any time Cowboy Cerrone returns to the Octagon, fight fans are in for a treat.

The 38-year-old had been set to face fellow veteran Diego Sanchez before the latter’s unexpected release from the promotion last month.

Instead, Cerrone will take on Alex Morono as he seeks to end a run of five without a win, stretching back to a Fight of the Night victory against Al Iaquinta in May 2019.

Cerrone is among the most popular stars on the UFC roster and boasts the record for the most wins (23) and most finishes (16) in the promotion’s history.

However, it’s no secret that the UFC have looked to part with some superstar names in recent times; the likes of Alistair Overeem, Tyron Woodley, Yoel Romero, Anderson Silva and Cory Anderson are just a few of those that spring to mind over the last 18 months.

A win would likely secure Cerrone’s immediate future – but another defeat could leave the UFC saddled with a tough decision over one of the promotion’s most loyal performers. 

Welterweight fireworks

We’re set for a treat on Saturday night as Geoff Neal, aka “Handz of Steel”, takes on perennial 170lb contender Neil Magny in a three-round welterweight affair guaranteed to provide the entertainment.

The pair had been set to trade leather last year before Neal fell seriously ill with sepsis and heart failure; thankfully the Fortis MMA man made a miraculous recovery and even went on to make an Octagon appearance against Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson to round off an eventful 2020.

The decision didn’t go his way that night but the Contender Series alumni remains a dangerous assignment for anyone in the 170lb division on his day.

Enter Neil Magny; the Colorado-based fighter has not lost successive fights since 2013 and will be keen to extend that record by bouncing back from January’s decision loss to Michael Chiesa with an impressive performance against Neal this weekend.

A UFC veteran of 24 fights, Magny is yet to challenge for gold but will feel he may only be a couple of good wins away from staking his claim at the incumbent king Kamaru Usman.

Can he start his championship campaign in style on Saturday night?

Game on for good guy Gregor

Gregor Gillespie will finally get a chance to move on from his devastating defeat to Kevin Lee 17 months ago when he makes his Octagon walk on Saturday night.

The UFC’s number-14 ranked lightweight found himself on the wrong end of a highlight reel KO against Lee in November 2019 and wisely elected to take time to recover fully.

It had been expected he would return to face Brad Riddell a month ago, only for the fight to fall through on a few hours’ notice due to a Covid outbreak in Riddell’s camp.

But now 34-year-old Gillespie is back in the game and, barring any more last-second disasters, will face Diego Ferreira as he looks to remind fans of the talent that earned him finishes in five of his first six UFC assignments.

“The way I lost was easier to accept for me”
- Gregor Gillespie

The Long Island, New York, native is all or nothing inside the cage – even when it doesn’t go his way.

Speaking about his loss to Lee ahead of his proposed showdown with Riddell last month, Gillespie explained: “The way I lost was easier to accept for me. And people may be like, what is he talking about? But that was easier for me to accept than getting beat up for three rounds, or getting taken down and held down.

“If I had been dragged through the mud and then lost a bad decision that would have hurt me way more.

“I got hit by a really nice punch followed by a really clean kick. And props to Kevin Lee on that, it was a beautiful combo. And I don’t know if you could do it better than that.

“It wasn’t lucky, it wasn’t ‘I got caught,’ it was perfectly executed and the credit is to him on that. It wasn’t like, ‘Man I had an off night.’ No, it was really solid on his end.”

Watch UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs Waterson live on BT Sport 1 HD from 11pm on Saturday 8 May.