We have another night of fights set for Saturday as two strawweight contenders, Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Lemos, headline UFC Vegas 64. The five-round bout takes place at the Apex in Las Vegas. Rodriguez and Lemos may not be household names, but don't let that fool you into underestimating the fight's significance. The No. 3-ranked Rodriguez is riding a four-fight winning streak and has only tasted defeat once in 19 career bouts — and it came at the hands of the current champion, Carla Esparza. So this fight is a massive opportunity for the 35-year-old Brazilian to make her case for a crack at the winner of Esparza's first title defense next week against Zhang Weili at UFC 281.
After being choked out in the first round by Jessica Andrade in April, Amanda Lemos bounced back with a submission victory against Michelle Waterson. Now, she gets a high-stakes matchup with Rodriguez, where the outcome will play a pivotal role in her career arc. A win over Rodriguez could insert her right back into the top five, but a loss could possibly push her outside of the top 10. So let's get to the action and size up these two dangerous strikers from a betting perspective.
Marina Rodriguez (-225) vs. Amanda Lemos (+175)
Lemos has rare knockout power for the division and consistently sacrifices rounds for the opportunity to land the big shot. She will want to impose herself physically, wear Rodriguez down and use the clinch to disrupt her opponent from getting in a rhythm from range. Rodriguez's versatility will be a problem for Lemos. Marina is an aggressive striker in her own right but is technically superior, with better footwork and faster hands. While Lemos tends to pick her spots to load up, Rodriguez chains leg kicks and combinations together to keep her opponents on the defensive.
Lemos' lack of experience pacing herself in a five-round fight will likely lead to her conceding the aggressor role to her opponent early. Once Marina finds her range, she will start accumulating damage on Lemos, forcing her to walk into more counters. This fight will be determined by who controls the center of the Octagon, and that will be Rodriguez. Her footwork will have Lemos chasing her down while Rodriguez sizes her up to return fire with crisp combinations. Anyone with Lemos' type of power is live, but I can't back her against a defensively sound opponent holding a strong tactical striking advantage. The -225 price tag might look steep, considering Lemos was a win away from title contention early in the year, but it's solid value considering her overall edges in the fight. Marina on the moneyline is my best bet for the main event.
The bet: Marina Rodriguez (-225)
Prop option: Rodriguez by decision (+125)
Since Rodriguez entered the UFC, the judge's scorecards have decided eight of her nine fights. Lemos' finishing upside and cardio disadvantage make it less likely for her to win this fight in the later rounds. If you don't want to sweat the variance of a decision, playing over 4.5 rounds at -110 is an option. However, it's better value to grab the plus money with Marina by decision. The 8% difference in implied probability between the two bets isn't justified, considering we have yet to see Lemos fight a complete five rounds while Rodriguez has done it twice.
Chase Sherman (-125) vs. Josh Parisian (-105)
Low-level heavyweights can provide some of the most unpredictable outcomes, so I only fire on these matchups if I see a decent edge. We have that here with Chase Sherman, who halted a four-fight losing streak with a TKO win over Jared Vanderaa. Sherman will be the much more active fighter who can win rounds with his output if he stays off his back. That's the determining factor. Parisian's path to victory is his wrestling, but Sherman denies takedowns at a pretty good clip (66%). Sherman's defense will help him drag Parisian into the later rounds, where his cardio advantage will take over — similar to the way he beat Vanderaa. I am betting Sherman will be the busier fighter and make it difficult for Parisian to find his entries.
The bet: Chase Sherman (-125)
Stats provided by ufcstats.com.