Welcome to my betting breakdown for UFC Vegas 39: Dern vs Rodriguez. The UFC will continue their run of fight night events at the Apex Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada this weekend. The nine-fight card is headlined by two Brazilian straweights who are vying for a title shot.
Despite there being nine fights available to wager on this weekend, I honestly have not found much that’s worth attacking. As of now, I’ve only made one official bet (although that number may increase later today).
You can find all my plays for free in the FTN Bets Tracker. I’ll be writing this best bets article weekly with extended breakdowns for up to three of my best bets, and occasionally some leans if I don’t have three plays. I will be in the FTNBets Discord for about two hours before the early prelims this weekend to answer any questions that readers might have. We'd love to continue building the community through Discord.
If you’re interested in DFS and betting takes for every fight on this card, you can check out The Undisputed MMA Show with Jon Kelly and myself.
This is a really interesting stylistic clash in the main event. These two fighters could not be any more different in terms of their skill sets. Dern, who is on a four-fight win streak following a 2-1 start in the UFC, is the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter that we’ve seen in Women’s MMA History. In terms of pure Jiu-Jitsu, there aren’t many people on the planet that can hang with her on the mat. We’ve seen that confirmed by four submission wins, including tap-out victories in three of her last four fights.
On the other side of things, Rodriguez is an elite Muay Thai striker. She excels in the clinch and when she is able to use all eight limbs (Muay Thai counts the elbows and knees as limbs) to unleash damage on her opponent. Rodriguez has only lost once in seven UFC appearances, but has drawn twice. She is on a two-fight win streak, having won her first main event by beating Michelle Waterson in May and notching an upset knockout over Amanda Ribas in January.
I think the general consensus surrounding this fight is that it’s a fairly binary matchup, meaning that if the fight stays on the feet it’s unlikely to be competitive, with Rodriguez winning the striking battles easily and having a chance for a knockout. However, should the fight hit the floor, Dern is a massive favorite in that realm. We’ve seen Rodriguez struggle mightily off her back before, and she’s facing the best submission threat she’s seen to date.
To me, that forces the handicap of this fight down to one simple question: How likely is the fight to hit the ground? And honestly, I’m not sure I can provide a great answer. I’ve historically been lower than most on Dern just because her wrestling lagged so far behind her grappling, and for somebody who is such a one-dimensional grappler it’s hard to pick her to win fights where she needs takedowns. However, her wrestling looked improved, albeit in a small sample, in her last fight against Nina Nunes. Dern was able to notch a takedown in the first round before methodically advancing to a submission, where she was able to get an armbar finish. Prior to that fight, a lot of Dern’s submissions came when her opponents followed her to the ground or even tried to take Dern down.
We do have a large sample of Rodirguez’s defensive wrestling and grappling being pretty lackluster, with just a 62% takedown defense and the fact that she has several draws because of 10-8 rounds where she was unable to get up off her back. I believe it’s a matter of if, not when Rodriguez is forced to submit should the fight hit the mat. However, again, I’m not sure how likely that is to happen.
The line that stuck out to me the most earlier this week was Dern by submission at +150. I don’t see many ways for Dern to win this fight outside of a submission, meaning that as a -170 favorite her submission prop should never be +150. If Dern is able to implement a game plan that gets the fight into her grappling world, she will get a submission. If she can’t, Rodriguez is overwhelmingly likely to win minutes at striking range and is live for a knockout as well. I’ll take the value on the favorite winning by her most likely win condition.
Bet: Mackenzie Dern by Submission +150 1x until +125 (Placed 10/5 on FanDuel)
These are plays I haven’t bet yet, but am considering
Steve Garcia by KO +100 at FOX Bet - Charlie Ontiveros has been knocked out in all seven of his professional losses and is now moving down in weight. Garcia is an aggressive striker who will move forward against a guy that historically has durability issues and has quit on multiple occasions.
Felipe Colares +215 at FanDuel - Jon Kelly has tried to talk me into this play all week, but I’m not sure I’m going to get there. He posted a great thread on Twitter outlining his thought process.
A student at the University of Colorado and +EV bettor, Jonah will be contributing both MMA betting and DFS content at FTN. He’s studying journalism and sports media at CU, and this is his first job in the betting industry. Jonah is the MMA Dog of The Night Challenge champion amassing a 90% ROI in the contest and has been a profitable MMA bettor with tracked results. He is known for betting early lines and getting out ahead of the betting market, and looks forward to helping subscribers do the same!