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The Ultimate Fighting Championship's return to the Apex in Las Vegas has a solid six-fight slate of prelims. Daniel Rodriguez anchors things in the featured prelim, and while he's the clear favorite in his bout opposite newcomer Preston Parsons, Parsons is enough of a talent to make things interesting. But the most relevant fight is one slot below, as darkhorse strawweight contender Amanda Lemos looks to continue her winning ways at 115 pounds against the unorthodox Montserrat Ruiz. Past that, it's the usual mix of upside-heavy talents in well-matched fights.
WelterweightsDaniel Rodriguez (14-2) vs. Preston Parsons (9-2)
Odds: Rodriguez (-250), Parsons (+210)
Rodriguez's UFC career thus far has been a pleasant surprise; he didn't show enough in his 2019 Dana White’s Contender Series win to earn a contract, and he figured to be cannon fodder for Tim Means when he stepped in as a late replacement in February of last year. But "D-Rod" delivered a shocking "club and sub" win in his UFC debut, and he's proven himself to be a solid welterweight in the year and a half since, winning four of five. Rodriguez is just a consistent fighter who's able to bring technical acumen and power, so while his approach may not often jump off the page, it's hard to argue with the results -- particularly with Rodriguez coming off a three-round shellacking of Mike Perry in April. Rodriguez will look for another win here against late-notice replacement and UFC newcomer Parsons, a Floridian who's an interesting prospect.
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Parsons's last few wins have come against middling competition, but he has a clear approach that should find him some success in the UFC, looking to apply pressure that leads into a powerful wrestling and submission game. That should help Parsons hang in the UFC while he figures the rest of his game out, but this is a tough first test -- while takedown defense is the biggest question mark in Rodriguez's game, Rodriguez has shown enough to date that he should be able to keep this fight standing and win it handily. The pick is Rodriguez via second-round knockout.
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