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Marina Rodriguez Says It Was “Best Decision” To Turn Down Zhang and Andrade Fights

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Saikat Banerjee
Saikat Banerjee
A wordsmith who indulges in the world of combat sports, Saikat Banerjee is an MMA, boxing, and arm wrestling content writer at The MMA India Show and The Sports Room. Apart from combat sports, he also engages in Indian sports content at The Sports India Show. Currently pursuing an MBA from Jadavpur University, Saikat's other interests lie in motorcycling, working out, and travelling.
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Marina Rodriguez, the 3rd ranked UFC Strawweight fighter, has her next outing in the Octagon scheduled at UFC Fight Night 214 on November 5, in Las Vegas, where she will face her fellow Brazilian, Amanda Lemos.

Currently, on a four-fight win streak, the Rio Grande do Sul native will face the 7th-ranked fighter in the division. However, The scenario could have been very different if Marina hadn’t turned down two other better-ranked opponents – the 3rd-ranked Zhang Weili or 5th ranked Jessica Andrade. However, Marina guarantees, in an exclusive interview with the Mundo da Luta podcast, that she has no regrets about making the decision.

“I fought (Yan) Xiaonan in March and a month or so passed and the UFC offered me to fight Weili Zhang in Singapore. I didn’t even have two whole months to prepare. To fight Weili Zhang, a former champion, we want a full camp, we want to be well prepared to put on an excellent fight. We had to deny it.”

“At the time, my coach already had another athlete (Taila Santos) fighting for the belt (flyweight) in the same event, so it would be complicated. He decided to give full attention to this fight for the belt and we had to pass Weili Zhang. We said that we would agree to fight her, but later on. Then the UFC said: ‘no, we want it for now’. So much so that Dana White made a statement saying that ‘timing’ was everything.”

The refusal to face Zhang, who ended up beating Joanna Jedrzejczyk in Singapore, is a well known fact, but soon after Marina turned down a fight with former champion Jessica Andrade, who has the same manager.

“After this very quick offer, the UFC offered Jessica Andrade, but she is from the same agency as me,” Marina went on, “Her coach, master Gilliard Paraná, is my manager. And we had a conversation and we said: we fight each other, but for the belt, which is beneficial for both sides. Then we deny those two fights. And it would take time to wait for the belt, it would only be next year, because Weili Zhang would only be later on. We waited there and the UFC forced us, pushed us for another fight, and we had to accept it. We are employees and we have to do our work, regardless of whether the fight makes sense or not. In this case, it makes no sense.”

Marina faces Amanda Lemos on the 5th of November, a week before the strawweight belt will be put on the line by champion Carla Esparza in a fight with Weili Zhang at UFC 281 in New York. It could be Marina, if she had accepted, she would have faced the Chinese. Still, there is no regret.

“Given the circumstances we were in at the time, it was the best decision. If I accepted to fight Weili Zhang with 40 days of training, on the same card with another super fight for our team, I wouldn’t deliver a fight that was really worth it, which is to fight Weili Zhang, a complete athlete and we’ve already seen it who is actually a former champion – and likely future champion. The decision was really the best one to follow. We play the game the UFC wants, and for that we have to be willing to bear all the consequences.”

The 35-year-old fighter, with a record of 16 wins, one loss and two draws, revealed a request for a confrontation with former champion Rose Namajunas, but the American fighter did not accept the duel. Nonetheless, Marina claims that if she wins against Lemos, she will make a run for the title.

“I wanted Rose Namajunas to be my next fight. There were conversations behind there and Rose is not fit. I don’t know if she’s still going to fight, but I think she’s kind of “off”. Otherwise, it would definitely be this fight, we asked, but it didn’t happen on the other side. And for sure, winning the next fight, no matter what, I’m ready to be the next challenger for the belt. Then there’s no way to put anyone in front of me anymore. It should be Rose (now in Amanda’s place), and since it won’t be now, it won’t be later either,” she added.

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Marina Rodriguez Says It Was "Best Decision" To Turn Down Zhang and Andrade Fights - Marina RodriguezMarina Rodriguez Says It Was "Best Decision" To Turn Down Zhang and Andrade Fights - Marina RodriguezMarina Rodriguez Says It Was "Best Decision" To Turn Down Zhang and Andrade Fights - Marina RodriguezMarina Rodriguez Says It Was "Best Decision" To Turn Down Zhang and Andrade Fights - Marina RodriguezMarina Rodriguez Says It Was "Best Decision" To Turn Down Zhang and Andrade Fights - Marina Rodriguez

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