UFC ‘DC’ Clash: Calvillo Vs. Rodriguez!

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Strawweight contenders Cynthia Calvillo and Marina Rodriguez will throw down this Saturday (Dec. 7, 2019) at UFC on ESPN 7 from inside Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

Calvillo enters this bout riding a two-fight win streak, currently ranked as the tenth-best contender in her division. At one point, Calvillo was in the immediate title mix, a position she’s still working hard at regaining. Meanwhile, Rodriguez is unbeaten in 13 trips to the cage, and she picked up the biggest win of her career last time out opposite Tecia Torres. The 32-year-old Brazilian is looking to make a run at the top right now, and this is another opportunity for her to score an important victory and make a considerable leap toward the top.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:

Cynthia Calvillo

Record: 8-1
Key Wins: Joanne Calderwood (UFC Fight Night 113), Cortney Casey (UFC on ESPN 1), Poliana Botelho (UFC Fight Night 140), Montana Stewart (LFA 1)
Key Losses: Carla Esparza (UFC 219)
Keys to Victory: First and foremost, Calvillo is an expert scrambler. She’s opportunistic with her takedowns and her movement on the feet can be tricky, but Calvillo excels when flowing from position-to-position on the mat, where it’s only a matter of time until she wraps up the neck.

Calvillo has a bad habit of letting the fight stay standing for too long. Against Carla Esparza, she dominated the first round from top position, but then was out-struck in the second and third while attempting zero takedowns. Similarly, Calvillo did not look for top position against Casey, and the fight was quite close as a result.

Rodriguez is not the woman to play that game with — her Muay Thai is nasty.

Luckily, Calvillo did her training camp in Thailand at Tiger Muay Thai, so that should be a style she is prepared for. Rodriguez likes to close distance with punches into the clinch, and that should play well into Calvillo’s reactive takedown game, particularly if Calvillo stays evasive early on.

Marina Rodriguez

Record: 12-0-1
Key Wins: Tecia Torres (UFC Fight Night 156), Jessica Aguilar (UFC on ESPN 2), Maria de Oliveira Neta (DWTNCS Brazil Season 1)
Key Losses: None
Keys To Victory: Rodriguez proved in her last bout that she can fight a very punishing style and make it a brutal 15 minutes. Opposite Torres, Rodriguez stalked and beat up her veteran foe the entire time, doing a lot of damage in the clinch with hard knees and elbows.

Against Calvillo, Rodriguez will have to be more careful with her pressure, as the reactive takedown is definitely a threat. Similarly, Rodriguez will need to be careful when kicking, as Calvillo has made a habit of catching kicks and converting them into takedowns.

Otherwise, smart pressure is the correct strategy to stymie Calvillo’s lateral movement. In addition, if Rodriguez can get Calvillo moving backward before slamming a low kick — or just targeting the calf rather than thigh — that would be a safe way to land the strike without getting taken down in the process.

Both women tend to do well in the clinch, as Rodriguez lands damaging blows, and Calvillo scores takedowns. Early on, Rodriguez will have to feel Calvillo’s strength and gauge if that’s a viable path, but if she feels confident working from this distance, it’s another potential path to victory.

Bottom Line: There’s a fair chance the winner receives a shot at a foe in the Top 5 next.

Calvillo has picked up a pair of solid victories since her loss and marijuana suspension, which has definitely put her back in the mix. Handing Rodriguez her first career loss would certainly go a long way in ensuring Calvillo receives a high-profile match next. If the Top 5 does prove out of reach, perhaps Michelle Waterson would be available, as that’s a bout Calvillo has requested in the past.

As for Rodriguez, she’s undefeated and should be in her athletic prime. Her best shot at making a real impact on the Strawweight division is this exact moment, so the stakes are certainly high. With a co-main event win over a fairly well-known name in Calvillo, Rodriguez should find herself against one of the division’s top fighters next.

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 7 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then remaining undercard portion that will air on ESPN proper at 7 p.m. ET (main card begins at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN).

To check out the latest and greatest UFC on ESPN 7: “Overeem vs. Rozenstruik” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

At UFC on ESPN 7, Cynthia Calvillo and Marina Rodriguez will collide in the co-main event. Which woman will have her hand raised?

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