An entertaining strawweight fight between Marina Rodriguez and Michelle Waterson will now headline UFC Vegas 26. Cory Sandhagen was supposed to face T.J. Dillashaw in the main event but the former two-time UFC bantamweight champion had to be pulled from the bout due to a cut he received while drilling. “I’m sad to say that I have to be pulled from my fight on May 8 due to a cut received from a head butt while drilling. Rescheduling the fight as soon as possible,” Dillashaw said.
A day later, the UFC pulled the new main event, a welterweight fight between Donald Cerrone and Diego Sanchez, for undisclosed reasons. Sanchez was then released from the UFC on May 14 over his issues with his trainer Joshua Fabia.
Rodriguez and Waterson are two lethal strikers with contrasting styles, making this a very intriguing clash. Waterson can excel in the striking department but Rodriguez is lethal at range and her Muay Thai offense has helped her dismantled all the women that faced her.
Rodriguez began her professional career in 2015 and with just two years of training she went 9-0 on the Brazilian circuit. Dana White noticed it and called her and she stopped Maria de Oliveira Neta in the first round at Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series Brazil on August 11, 2018. This raised her stock and then she went 3-1-2 in her next six fights, with wins against Jessica Aguilar, Tecia Torres and Amanda Ribas. In her last fight, she stopped Ribas in the second round at UFC 257 on January 23.
The only loss of Rodriguez’s career was against former UFC Women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza at UFC on ESPN 14 on July 25 and it took a solid grappling offense from Esparza to win via split decision.
Waterson won her first professional fight via unanimous decision against Andrea Miller at ROF 28 – Evolution on February 16, 2007. ‘Karate Hottie’ is a former Invicta FC atomweight champion and she has wins against Paige VanZant, Cortney Casey, Felice Herrig, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Angela Hill.
She went through a rough patch, suffering back-to-back decision losses against Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Carla Esparza (a controversial win by Esparza because of weird scoring) before beating Hill via split decision at UFC Fight Night: Waterson vs. Hill on September 12.