Marina Rodriguez vs. Michelle Waterson


With a thrown-together main event and a late replacement in the co-main event, UFC Vegas 26 wasn’t exactly a big-time card for the UFC.

However, the show still provided some decent action, and a handful of fighters picked up some major victories to shift themselves up the UFC ladder.

So with this in mind, here are the five biggest winners from UFC Vegas 26: Marina Rodriguez vs. Michelle Waterson.


#1 Marina Rodriguez – defeated Michelle Waterson in UFC Vegas 26 main event

Marina Rodriguez may be on the path to a UFC strawweight title shot after her win over Michelle Waterson.
Marina Rodriguez may be on the path to a UFC strawweight title shot after her win over Michelle Waterson.

Marina Rodriguez was ranked at #6 in the UFC strawweight rankings going into last night’s show, meaning she didn’t have a lot to gain from that standpoint against #9 ranked Michelle Waterson.

However, this was still a big opportunity for Rodriguez given Waterson’s high profile and the fact that the fight was a UFC main event.

In the end, the Brazilian pulled through, picking up a unanimous decision win in a mostly convincing performance.

It wasn’t perfect from Rodriguez. She was hurt in the fifth round and looked vulnerable on the mat – something that will probably have the likes of Mackenzie Dern and Rose Namajunas licking their lips.

However, she still did enough to clearly win this fight and is definitely a title contender at 115lbs. A fight with Joanna Jedrzejczyk would definitely work next for her – even if it wouldn’t test her ground game – and could provide her with a path to a UFC title shot.


#2 Alex Morono – defeated Donald Cerrone

Alex Morono looked excellent in his win over UFC veteran Donald Cerrone.
Alex Morono looked excellent in his win over UFC veteran Donald Cerrone.

Arguably, Alex Morono was last night’s biggest winner. Despite a solid UFC record of 7-4, the Great White was basically an unknown before stepping in to face Donald Cerrone on late notice as a replacement for Diego Sanchez.

Nobody gave him a chance against Cowboy, yet Morono stunned everyone by upping the aggression, hurting the veteran with strikes, and finishing him in the first round.

Sure, the truth is that Cowboy is way past his best now and this loss was probably a signal of where he is right now more than Morono breaking into the elite level.

However, you can only beat the opponent in front of you, and Morono did that in style, picking up the biggest win of his UFC career.

If nothing else now, the UFC fans will definitely know exactly who he is before his next fight.


#3 Neil Magny – defeated Geoff Neal

Neil Magny was impressive in his three-round shutdown of Geoff Neal.
Neil Magny was impressive in his three-round shutdown of Geoff Neal.

After suffering a loss to Michael Chiesa in January, Neil Magny got back on the horse in style last night and completely outworked Geoff Neal to pick up a unanimous decision.

The Haitian Sensation basically beat Neal in all areas, and the fact that he didn’t end up eating one big shot from Handz of Steel was highly impressive.

Magny might not be the most exciting fighter to watch in the UFC’s welterweight division – he hasn’t finished an opponent in the octagon since his 2018 TKO of the overmatched Craig White. But he’s definitely one of the toughest fighters at 170lbs.

And the fact that he avoided his traditional defeat at the hands of a specialist striker like Neal might be an indicator that he’s still improving and could still make a surprising run at the UFC welterweight title.


#4 Phil Hawes – defeated Kyle Daukaus

Phil Hawes looks like a man to watch at 185lbs in the UFC.
Phil Hawes looks like a man to watch at 185lbs in the UFC.

It’s taken Phil Hawes a little longer to make it into the UFC than many observers expected, but since he’s arrived in the octagon, he’s been making up for lost time.

Last night saw him pick up his third UFC win in a row, and while he didn’t finish Kyle Daukaus, the performance was almost certainly his best in the octagon to date.

After a somewhat tricky first round, Hawes showed his durability by surviving some solid shots from Daukaus to completely dismantle him in the third round.

If anything, that stanza was so one-sided that it was a surprise not to see Megatron awarded with his second TKO win in the UFC.

With a rapidly developing striking game and some serious power to go with his stellar wrestling game, Hawes is clearly a man to watch at 185lbs. A couple more performances like this, and he’ll be a definite title contender.


#5 Gregor Gillespie – defeated Diego Ferreira

Gregor Gillespie is still in the UFC lightweight title mix after his win over Diego Ferreira.
Gregor Gillespie is still in the UFC lightweight title mix after his win over Diego Ferreira.

When Gregor Gillespie suffered one of the all-time brutal UFC knockouts at the hands of Kevin Lee in November 2019, there were always going to be questions around how he’d bounce back.

And early in his fight with Diego Ferreira last night, the signs weren’t good. The Gift got hurt standing, beaten up on the ground, and looked all but done as the opening round ended.

But somehow, Gillespie willed himself back into the fight, turned the tables and beat Ferreira down in the second round for an impressive TKO victory.

The win was Gillespie’s seventh in the UFC, and while his striking is still a little wild and open, his ground game makes him a threat to any fighter at 155lbs.

Hopefully, he can get back into the octagon sooner rather than later to follow this performance up because he could well be a title contender. And at the age of 34, he probably doesn’t have that big of a window to make a run to the top of the ladder.






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