Max Holloway can potentially thrust himself back into the title picture with a win over Yair Rodriguez on Saturday night, as two of the UFC’s most unique strikers look set to go to war.
Let’s take a look at the main card…
Max Holloway (22-6) vs. Yair Rodriguez (13-2) – Featherweight
It’s only right to begin with our main event, where No. 1 featherweight contender Max Holloway takes on No. 3 Yair Rodriguez after the Mexican’s two-year absence.
Holloway comes into the fight off the back of throwing a whopping 746 strikes in his clinic of a beatdown over Calvin Kattar back in January. That got ‘Blessed’ back into the swing of things after dropping two in a row to champion Alexander Volkanovski, and the Hawaii native is itching to get a third shot at the Australian.
Both fighters have made it abundantly clear pre-fight that they intend to ‘get busy’, with Holloway saying he intends to throw over 900 strikes against Rodriguez. The Mexican is coming in to the fight off the back of a two-year USADA suspension, so ring rust could be a factor here, but it’s clear he’s looking forward to getting back in the octagon, saying that it’s “two ****** warriors getting to **** each other up.”
It will certainly be fascinating to see how Rodriguez and his unorthodox striking style, in which he can throw just about anything from just about any angle, matches up with the high volume output of Holloway.
But in the end, it’s hard to look past the Hawaiian in this five-rounder. Expect him to wear down his opponent and get the finish in the later rounds.
Ben Rothwell (39-13) vs. Marcos Rogerio De Lima (18-7-1) – Heavyweight
Big Ben Rothwell heads into the 53rd fight of his career in fine form, winning three of his last four.
His opponent Marcos Rogerio De Lima is one of those fighters who is extremely dangerous early in the fight, but if you take him to deeper waters, he’s susceptible to being taken down and dominated on his back. Of his last 10 fights he’s lost five, all via submission.
40-year-old veteran Rothwell should take the victory here if he can weather any early storms.
Felicia Spencer (8-3) vs. Leah Letson (5-1) – Women’s Featherweight
Felicia Spencer is 1-3 in her last four fights, but prior to that, she started her career 7-0, with a big win over Megan Anderson to her name in her UFC debut.
It’s worth noting however, that two of those recent losses came against the monster that is Amanda Nunes and women’s MMA legend Cris Cyborg, neither of whom managed to finish the Canadian.
Her opponent Leah Letson is 5-0 since losing her professional debut, but she hasn’t stepped into the UFC octagon since 2018.
Spencer may have her way with Letson both on the feet and on the ground here, with Letson not being the most accurate striker, meaning it may be hard to stop Spencer taking the fight wherever she wants.
Miguel Baeza (10-1) vs. Kalinn Williams (12-2) – Welterweight
Aside from the main event, this one could be the fight of the night.
Both fighters possess considerable power and have a number of finishes to their name, while also having never been stopped themselves.
Baeza is probably the more technical, well rounded fighter of the pair, but he will be wary of slipping into a war with Williams, who could end the fight in one swing.
To avoid that, he may end up opting to take the fight to the mat, dipping into his more extensive toolbox to secure the victory.
Song Yadong (17-5-1) vs. Julio Arce (17-4) – Bantamweight
Since entering the UFC, Yadong Song has notched nine fights at just 23-years-old, and there will be no let up in this one as he faces a durable Julio Arce, who has won nine of his last 11.
Arce is 4-2 in the UFC, but both losses were debatable split-decisions. He’ll try to pick off Yadong with precise technical striking while looking for a takedown, something which the China native has had trouble with in the past.
Yadong is the slight betting favourite here, but this one could be very close. Don’t look past Arce pulling off an ‘upset’.
There’s British interest on the undercard in this one, with Marc Diakiese taking on Rafael Alves, where he should pick up the victory as 1/2 favourite.
Thiago Moises vs. Joel Alvarez
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Andrea Lee
Sean Woodson vs. Collin Anglin
Cortney Casey vs. Liana Jojua
Marc Diakese vs. Rafael Alves
Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Da Un Jung
UFC Fight Night 197 Odds – Whenever you bet, Betfred