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The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s last Fight Night of October offers a solid undercard on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The feature prelim is the clear standout, as a middleweight clash between Jun Yong Park and Gregory Rodrigues looks like one of the better bouts on the entire card. Beyond that, some banger potential exists with a few lightweight tilts and a flyweight battle between Jeff Molina and promotional newcomer Daniel Lacerda. Further down the lineup sits a crucial strawweight affair for Livinha Souza and Randa Markos, so all in all, there is more meat on this bone than you might expect.
Now to the preview for the UFC Fight Night 196 prelims:
MiddleweightsNR | Jun Yong Park (13-4, 3-1 UFC) vs. NR | Gregory Rodrigues (10-3, 1-0 UFC)
ODDS: Park (-110), Rodrigues (-110)
Under-the-radar middleweight talents clash in the hidden gem of this card. South Korea’s Park came to the UFC with an intriguing style that was not guaranteed to work against better competition. “The Iron Turtle” was a dedicated counter fighter, which would force him to thread a needle against opponents with an ability to cause more damage or control a fight with wrestling. Early returns were not great, as Anthony Hernandez tapped Park in his UFC debut, but he has done well to rebound with three straight wins since. Park has been much more focused on implementing his wrestling, and that has unlocked the rest of his game, giving him much more of an ability to separate himself from his opponents on the scorecards. He looked surprisingly strong in an impressive performance against the hulking Tafon Nchukwi, and he draws another tough test here. Rodrigues’ September 2020 knockout loss to Jordan Williams on Dana White’s Contender Series looms large, but that has been about the only misstep for “Robocop” since he became a prospect worth watching. Rodrigues comes from a grappling background, but he has not even had to break out that part of his game all the time, as he has made most of his hay as a surprisingly effective knockout threat. After the Williams bout, Rodrigues rebounded with two knockout wins and quickly earned a late-notice call to face Dusko Todorovic in June—a complete performance that saw Rodrigues break out his wrestling while outpacing the Serbian on the feet. It is hard to know what to make of this one, as it figures to be an excellent fight. Rodrigues is the harder hitter and figures to initiate the offense, but Park has more durability and a superior gas tank; and while Rodrigues is the much larger fighter, Park’s impressive wrestling performance against Nchukwi suggests the Korean might still have success trying to take this to the mat. This is a coinflip, but the call is that Rodrigues can separate himself with his knockout power and do enough to hold on through any rough moments late. The pick is Rodrigues via decision.
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