Fight fans gear up for another exhilarating weekend of MMA with the upcoming UFC Fight Night 236 in Las Vegas. While the evening is main evented by a exhilarating matchup between the fast rising Joe Pyfer and a savvy Jack Hermansson, plenty of other bouts offer intrigue as well.
One of these lurks further down the main card in the form of Brad Tavares vs Gregory Rodrigues. This under the radar middleweight bout between a seasoned veteran and fan favorite striker presents an important crossroads for both men. So much so, that we believe it may well steal the show on Saturday night and be the fight of the night.
Whose career will be left hanging in the balance after Saturday night? Read why we're predicting Tavares vs Rodrigues to be an all action fireworks affair with far reaching consequences.
Tough Out Comes Up Against Explosive Striker
Brad Tavares (+207) is no stranger to the Octagon, having been a stalwart of the middleweight division for years.
Making his UFC debut all the way back in 2010 against now long retired Seth Baczynski, the 20-8 Tavares has faced a who's who of the division over his UFC tenure. This includes former champions Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker, as well as current UFC middleweight champion Dricus Du Plessis.
Despite coming up short against a lot of this elite competition, Tavares has held up his reputation as a tough out for anyone in the division. In his most recent outing, Tavares secured a hard-fought decision victory against fellow tough veteran and former champion Chris Weidman, proving he still possesses the tenacity and skill to compete at the highest level.
Across the cage stands Brazilian powerhouse Gregory Rodrigues (-238), whose ascent in the middleweight ranks has been nothing short of impressive.
Since making his UFC debut back in 2021 against the highly skilled Dusko Todorovic, “Robocop” has garnered much fanfare thanks to his action oriented style, shown in his multiple fight of the night performances against Park Jun-Yong and Chidi Njokuani.
Rodrigues’ explosive striking has been on full display so far with four stunning knockouts in his seven fight UFC run. None have been more impressive than his last performance against Denis Tiuliulin, where he elbowed Tiuliuin out cold to secure a first round knockout.
Where Tavares vs Rodrigues Will Be Won or Lost
Stylistically to the naked eye, this seems like Rodrigues’ fight to lose. However, it would be foolish to count Tavares out.
The key to victory for Tavares in this fight is simple: hit Rodrigues without getting hit.
In his UFC run Tavares has been knocked out four times, and with age catching up to the 36 year old, it would be wise to take a cautious approach to this fight on the feet. Rodrigues has absorbed on average 5.67 significant strikes per minute in his seven fight octagon run so far, which is a high number and certainly much more than the 3.03 of the experienced Tavares.
For Rodrigues this weekend, he could slug it out on the feet.
Although he takes a lot of damage, he also gives it back with menace, averaging 5.99 significant strikes per minute in the UFC. On top of this, he is a threat in top position on the mat, averaging 2.40 takedowns per 15 minutes, and with vicious ground and pound to back it up.
If he can get Tavares to the floor that might seal him the fight. The Hawaiian does not pose a submission threat at all on the ground, and has actually never been credited with a submission attempt in his 23 fight UFC run.
Tension Builds Ahead of Fight Night, But Respectfully
In the approach to this weekend's clash, both fighters have given respect to each other, while noting the importance of this weekend's bout.
In recent media comments, Tavares told journalists that to beat Rodrigues this weekend he would have to draw on his veteran poise he has gathered over his 13 years of UFC experience.
Tavares stated, “I've been in this game for a long time, and I know what it takes to win. Rodrigues is a tough opponent, but I've faced and beaten the best. This is my time to show that I still belong at the top.”
Rodrigues, on the other hand, although respectful of Tavares as an opponent, has been clear on his ambitions and goals in this exciting division.
In interviews leading up to the event, Rodrigues remarked, “I respect Tavares, but I'm here to make a statement. I want to prove that I'm the future of the middleweight division, and beating a seasoned veteran like Tavares is the next step in my journey.”
Why Tavares vs Rodrigues Could Be Fight of the Night
As fight night approaches, the significance of this middleweight clash for both men cannot be overstated.
For Tavares, it's an opportunity to demonstrate that in this advanced stage of his career he still belongs in this fast changing middleweight division. In his last seven he has traded wins and losses, going 3-4, and at 36 years of age, the Hawaiian isn’t getting any younger.
For the 31-year-old Rodrigues, it seems to be his time. He’s the younger fighter with a height and reach advantage, oozing confidence and a style that gets the fans behind him. This bout presents “Robocop” with a chance to catapult himself into the long list of contenders at middleweight, and potentially find himself in an exciting matchup against a top 15 opponent next.
In a high stakes weekend for this middleweight division, Tavares and Rodrigues might just be the pick of the lot. A fight with fight of the night written all over it, this has all the ingredients for an electric showdown, and is one that fight fans won't want to miss.