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UFC Fight Night 214 picks: A UFC event that's just for fun

MMA Bobbleheads CEO and creator Dave Manley offers up his selections for Saturday's card in Las Vegas.
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1. Marina Rodriguez vs. Amanda Lemos

Coming off a split-decision win over Yan Xiaonan where she was an almost 3-1 favorite, Marina Rodriguez (16-1-2 MMA, 6-1-2 UFC) extended her win streak to four in a row. Her striking has been very sharp, which she demonstrated with her second-round TKO of Amanda Ribas. As for her defensive game, she managed to avoid drowning against the submission hype machine that is Mackenzie Dern, which is relatively impressive. Marina has satisfied the minimum requisite to earn a top 3 opponent, she will look to make that concrete when she faces strawweight peer Amanda Lemos (12-2-1 MMA, 6-2 UFC). 

Amanda was on her own streak with five wins, emerging as a contender before she ran into Jessica Andrade, losing that fight by first-round arm-triangle choke. She bounced back with a second-round guillotine choke victory and will look to make it two in a row with 25 minutes to try and catch Marina in the scramble, if she can get it there. I can see Marina showcasing her pinpoint striking accuracy as long as she keeps her sprawl game strong. Amanda might have more power on the feet, but as we've seen in the past, speed, accuracy and superior footwork lead the dance every time. 

Hardcore History: Marina was born in Bage, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. She played multiple sports throughout her youth, none of which she took to on a professional level. After working in the field of graphic design, she got bored and took up muay Thai. From there, she fought regionally for three years, before signing with the UFC in 2018. Her only loss is a split decision to the current strawweight champ Carla Esparza. As for her opponent Amanda, she was born in Belem, Para, Brazil. She started competing in MMA in 2014, fighting regionally until she signed with the UFC in 2017. She made her promotional debut on short notice at bantamweight, losing by TKO in the second round. After losing two years of her career due to a positive test for the anabolic steroid stanozolol, she came back in the fourth quarter of 2019 with a second-round submission win. 

Dave's Pick: Not much that you can say about this. Pretty straight forward. Rodriguez last (and ONLY) loss was to the champion, Esparza. She's the -220 favorite here, and I'll lay that price happily. I really can't believe that this is the Main Event. 

 2. Neil Magny vs. Daniel Rodriguez

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Daniel Rodriguez (17-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC) just went through the crap storm that was UFC 279, bless his patient heart. He came out the other end with a decision win over Li Jingliang, in what could only be explained as a casual sparring match with almost no impact on either fighter's career. He attempted to leave that experience in the past with a quick turn around against Neil Magny (26-9 MMA, 19-8 UFC) last month, but his elbow said "not so fast," and he had to pull out. Now he'll finally, hopefully, get his chance to take on Neil as he looks to extend his win streak to five. That won't be a walk in the park. 

In contrast to Li, Neil favors forward pressure and will fight in close. Truth be told, he is pretty good when he's on. That is against the middle of the division, he's got hard fought wins over the likes of Geoff Neal and Max Griffin, but Geoff Neal is still ranked at least six spots above him. Why is that you ask? Look no further than Magny's listless bouts with Michael Chiesa and Shavkat Rakhmonov. The former who out grappled him and the latter who dominated him. Should Daniel get his way, this fight will take place entirely on the feet, but Neil has his fair share of tricks. He might work to trip Daniel from the clinch or take him down against the cage at the end of close rounds. I'd imagine whoever wins the short clinch battles will most likely win this fight, it should be a very close contest.

Hardcore History: Aoutneil Jacques Magny, of Hatian and Dominican descent, born in Brooklyn, New York. Damn that is cool to say out loud, you should have ridden that title wave brotha' (see what i did there). Oh well, now he's known merely as the guy who almost won an early season of "The Ultimate Fighter" and at his best garnered seven wins in a row. That was seven years ago, since 2015 he's traded wins and losses across 15 bouts. Yeah, he's had a crap ton of fights in the sport's elite promotion. As for "D-Rod" Rodriguez, he grew up in LA. He's been in and out of the jail system due to gang related issues, and now he's a professional fighter. Can't imagine how tough life must have been for him growing up, but he's got more discipline on his side now as he's been training with the likes of Khalil Rountree Jr. and Joanne Wood at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas. John Wood, head coach at Syndicate, has been slowly building a solid roster of veteran fighters and coaches to train the next generation. 

Dave's Pick: This is very close on paper. The favorite in this fight is Magny. He is certainly the more versatile fighter with a ton more experience. "D-Rod" has been improving more and more with each fight as well. This one is too hard to pick a winner, so let's take a peek at the total of 2.5 rounds, with the over being the favorite at -215. 

Magny has gone OVER in his last eight fights! Daniel's fights have gone the distance four out of the last five. I'm taking the over here. I really don't like heavy favorites too much, so I'll also parlay this to the main. 

3. Grant Dawson vs. Mark O. Madsen

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This fight is essentially a short notice bout between two fighters who have never really lost. That might be a hot take if you're related to Hugh Pulley, but if you're not biased and you've seen that fight then you understand. Grant Dawson's real losses, if you want to call them that, have been his trials and tribulations with USADA. (the anti-doping agency that tests UFC athletes). He's been exonerated from any flags his tests have raised in the past, so we'll leave it at that. 

Dawson (18-1-1 MMA, 6-0-1 UFC) relies on a heavy grappling base and is a real problem if you give up your back. His opponent, Mark O. Madsen (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC), is an elite wrestler in his own right, so it will be interesting to see who wins the takedown battle, if that even occurs. We've witnessed a few intriguing grappler v. grappler wrestling matches in the past, most notably Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields in 2013, but historically speaking, these tend to end up in a half-decent sparring match as each fighter's grappling strength nullifies the other. The saving grace is that both of these guys are very animated and eager to gain a seat at the table for top 15 featherweights only. May the best man do something spectacular. 

Hardcore History: Dawson was born in Wisconsin, but grew up in Polk County, Nebraska. He was homeschooled but wrestled at a local high school, and as soon as he turned 18, he started training MMA. He took nine amateur bouts, winning eight of them, before turning pro in the third quarter of 2018. He most notably trained with Glory MMA for 7 years before his very recent transition to American Top Team. His opponent, Madsen, was born in Denmark and started wrestling at age 6. He took his passion all the way to the 2008 Summer Olympics, participating in Greco-Roman wrestling at around 174 pounds, then later to the 2012 Summer Olympics in England, where he lost in the second round to Russian wrestler Roman Vlasov. He went on to rematch his new nemesis at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. Unfortunately he fell short in his revenge match, ultimately earning the silver medal in his final Olympic run. Having had just two martial arts bouts in 2013 and 2014, winning both in the first round, he finally committed solely to MMA in January of 2018. He is currently training with Henry Cejudo and his team at Fight Ready MMA in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

Dave's Pick: I'm probably looking forward to this fight the most. Both guys are so fun to watch, and it will be a real treat for us fans if this match is mostly contested on the mat. Madsen has gone the distance six of his last eight, and Dawson is very familiar with the third round, seeing it five of the last seven times he's entered the cage. 

The total here is 2.5 rounds with the over at -215. Guys, this is a favorite kind of day. Rare. I'm taking the over. I'm also going to parlay all three plays together and try to make some better coin. A three-team parlay with these picks pays 2-1. I'll take that. Good luck!

Dave Manley is the creator and CEO of MMA Bobbleheads, a California-based company making handmade, high-quality, high-artistry bobbleheads of your favorite MMA personalities. A 25-plus year fan of MMA, Manley saw a need for high-end, handcrafted memorabilia for fans and decided to create the best bobbleheads that have ever been made for any sport. Learn more on Twitter and Instagram.