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This is a tough fight to predict, as evidence by the near pick ’em’ odds. On one hand, you have a struggling fighter in Mike Rodriguez, who presents a challenge to nearly every Light Heavyweight with his length. However, his leaky takedown defense and grappling have doomed him in three of his four losses in the UFC. On the other hand, you have an inexperienced fighter who stormed into the UFC after only five professional fights. While obviously still green, it’s safe to assume Tafon Nchukwi hasn’t unlocked his full potential yet. Throw in the fact that he’s moving back up to Light Heavyweight, and his smaller size could be problematic.
As for a prediction, I’m siding with Nchukwi. Although he is inexperienced, I do believe that he has several advantages in this fight. The Cameroonian holds a significant power edge, as well as the ability in this particular fight, to mix in takedowns. Given Rodriguez has yet to prove he can stuff a takedown, it’s fair to assume he will once again be exploited here. Nchukwi has shown good output thus far, throwing good combinations and often attacking the body. The biggest problems in this fight I see for Nchukwi are size, speed, head movement and Rodriguez’s size and length advantages. However, if Nchukwi wrestles like I believe he will, he can neutralize all those disadvantages. So with all that said, I predict that Nchukwi gets back on track, winning this fight via decision.