UFC Long Island Main Card On ABC/ESPN+ (2 p.m. ET):

Embed from Getty Images

145 lbs.: Brian Ortega vs. Yair Rodriguez – The main event comes in the Featherweight division, as Brian Ortega takes on Yair Rodriguez. Coming off his second failed bid to capture the Featherweight title, Ortega returns to the octagon looking to re-enter into the mix. Ranked second in the division, Ortega still remains in an excellent position. With new contenders emerging, Ortega has been given an opportunity to knock one off and improve his chances at earning a third crack at the title. Meanwhile, Rodriguez comes into this fight off a back-and-forth brawl with the former champion, Max Holloway. The decision did not go his way, but his stock if anything, went up. Third in the ranking and having never fought for the title, with a clear need for a new title challenger, Rodriguez has a huge opportunity at earning a title shot with a victory.

Whenever both gentlemen step inside the octagon, expect violence. Ortega, who is a grappling wizard, has mainly fancied striking. While Ortega is no slouch on the feet, just watch his fight against Chan Sung Jung, it’s the area of his game in which has led him astray. Knowing that opponents want nothing do with Ortega on the ground, the Mexican-American has only been taken down in four of his ten UFC fights. In those four instances, Ortega has finished three opponents. With a dangerous submission game, everyone not named Alexander Volkanovski have escaped his clutches. Wanting nothing to do with grappling is Rodriguez. A striker to the core, Rodriguez has one of the most dynamic and diverse striking arsenals in MMA. Durable as nails, Rodriguez has proven that he can endure punishment and keep coming forward. Backed by excellent cardio, “La Pantera” throws excellent output and pushes a hard pace. If there is anything that is worrisome about Rodriguez, it’s his iffy takedown defense and developing grappling.

Knowing all to well that Ortega will elect to strike, I favor Rodriguez in this fight. If there is anything certain though, this has barnburner and bonus written all over it. With both men boasting durability and cardio, I expect the fight to be a back-and-forth battle. However, Ortega gets hit too often and visibly wears it. Two aspects that should aide Rodriguez to a late TKO victory.

Embed from Getty Images

115 lbs.: Amanda Lemos vs. Michelle Waterson – The co-main event comes in the Women’s Strawweight division, as Michelle Waterson takes on Amanda Lemos. A loser of three of the last four fights, albeit against stiff competition, Waterson returns to the octagon looking to rebound. Still ranked tenth, Waterson remains in a position to earn another crack at a top five opponent. With title aspirations fading, it’s now or never for the 36-year old. Meanwhile, Lemos comes into this fight looking to move past her defeat to Jessica Andrade in April. Despite being a setback, the UFC still holds the Brazilian in high regards. There is a reason she is slotted in the co-main and it’s an excellent opportunity to prove that she belongs amongst the division’s best.

Excellent matchmaking in this fight, as both women have a chance to prove they belong in the top ten. A former Invicta FC Atomweight champion, Waterson has done well for herself fighting up a weight class since joining the UFC. Obviously facing a size disadvantage and not being able to properly use her grappling as well as she would like, the karate based Waterson has mainly done her damage with striking. Not the most powerful or defensively sound, Waterson tries to keep distance and fire off her diverse arsenal. If Waterson manages to land a takedown, her grappling can lead to periods of important control time. However, Lemos is not easy to takedown. A fearsome striker, Lemos is the Strawweight’s all-time leader in knockdown average, shortest fight time average and most knockdowns at five. Statistically top ten in several other categories, Lemos in only seven UFC fights, has made her impact in short order. Physically strong, Lemos has been able to keep herself upright and at times, take foes down. The one knock on Lemos is cardio. She fades the later the fight goes, which is a vulnerability that can be exploited against the right foe.

If the UFC added an Atomweight division, Waterson would certainly be a Champion. Prior to entering the UFC, Waterson was mowing down the competition. With ten of her twelve wins coming via finish, seven of which were via submission, Waterson had developed into a shark inside the cage. Having to move up to Strawweight, has seen Waterson go 6-5 in the UFC. In my opinion, she’s about to be 6-6. Lemos is stronger, hard to takedown and has immense power as I noted. All ingredients in which, against someone with no power like Waterson, will lead to a rough night at the office. With that said, I predict Lemos wins via TKO.


170 lbs.: Li Jingliang vs. Muslim Salikhov – We have a pivotal fight in the Welterweight division, as Li Jingliang takes on Muslim Salikhov. A loser of two of the last three fights, Jingliang has had hard time against the upper echelon of the division. Still ranked fourteenth, Jingliang remains in a position in which he can earn another opportunity. First thing’s first, getting back on track with a victory. Meanwhile, Salikhov has been on a tear since dropping his UFC debut. A winner of five straight and sixteen of the last seventeen, Salikhov has shown that he is a legitimate threat in this Welterweight division. The only problem, is inactivity has limited him to only two fights in the last two years.

An important fight in the division, this has the ingredients to be a fun one. Jingliang can be described as a talented, yet wild fighter. Heavy handed and not afraid to brawl, Jingliang is notoriously a dangerous man to stand across from. Physically strong and with good wrestling as well, Jingliang has proven that he isn’t just a one-trick pony. The knock however on Jingliang has been his takedown defense and grappling. Of his five losses in the UFC, he was taken in four of them. Given Salikhov is mainly a striker, perhaps we don’t see any grappling. Then again, the former kickboxer has landed five takedowns in the last three fights. With a Wushu Sanda background, Salikhov is a dynamic striker with a vast arsenal on the feet. Patient and with a real sense of keeping distance, Salikhov looks pick his shots on the outside. A style that has limited his activity, but not his ability to flatline opponents. As evident by twelve of his eighteen wins coming via knockout.

Knowing both men possess knockout power, we could be in store for a back-and-forth fight. However, it’s Salikhov who I’m backing. With an arsenal on the feet, immense kickboxing experience and a grappling edge, I believe Salikhov has the tools to gain the upper hand on Jingliang. If the Russian can manage to stay on the outside and be patient, there are going to be opportunities to capitalize on the Jingliang’s wild advancements. So with that said, I predict that Salikhov wins this fight via decision.


125 lbs.: Matt Schnell vs. Su Mudaerji – The lone Flyweight tilt on the card, see’s a pair of ranked fighters in Matt Schnell and Su Mudaerji clash. Coming off a “Fight of the Night” defeat to Brandon Royval, which only lasted 134 seconds, Schnell returns to octagon looking to get back on track. Still ranked eighth, Schnell remains in a position where a two or three fight winning streak could be enough to warrant a title shot. Meanwhile, Mudaerji comes into this bout on a three-fight win streak. Having only fought four times since November of 2018, due to injuries and cancellations, the rise of Mudaerji has been a slow build. Perhaps healthy now and with an opportunity to crack the top ten, Mudaerji can generate some real buzz with a victory.

This is a fun fight, and one that could go either way. Schnell is a well rounded fighter, who despite mainly striking, has exceptional grappling abilities. With eight of fifteen wins coming via submission, it’s strange to me that he doesn’t incorporate his ground game often. Instead, Schnell elects to strike. With speed and volume, Schnell has proven he’s got the skills to win on the feet. However, it’s also where he’s been most vulnerable. In ten UFC fights, which includes a no contest, Schnell has lost four times – all of which have been via stoppage. Looking to test that durability is Mudaerji. A striker, with excellent size for a Flyweight, Mudaerji has been known for his finishing prowess. With thirteen of his sixteen wins coming via knockout, Mudaerji isn’t one to mess around with on the feet. The knock though on Mudaerji, is his grappling. Having lost all four of his losses via submission, Mudaerji doesn’t want any part of being on the ground with Schnell.

There could be several dicey moments in this fight for either man, but ultimately it’s Mudaerji who I believe gets the job done. Grappling issues aside, Mudaerji’s takedown defense is good enough to thwart off Schnell – who has only landed two takedowns in ten UFC fights. Given Schnell’s reluctance to strike, I like Mudaerji’s chances at cracking the American’s suspect chin. With that said, I predict Mudaerji makes it four straight, winning via knockout.

Embed from Getty Images

145 lbs.: Shane Burgos vs. Charles Jourdain – Fireworks are abound to happen in this Featherweight clash, as Shane Burgos takes on Charles Jourdain. Coming off an important victory over Billy Quarantillo, which halted a two-fight skid, Burgos made it known that he’s still a player in this division. A bonus machine during his tenure with the UFC, Burgos has been apart of four “Fight of the Night’s in the past nine fights. Meanwhile, Jourdain has found his footing inside the octagon of late. A winner of two straight and three of the past four fights, Jourdain is ready to take on the divisions top fifteen.

A “Fight of the Night” contender, these two gentlemen are going to put on a show. Burgos is a striker, who is never in a boring fight. Willing to brawl, the Tiger Schulmann product has often seen his striking defense go out the window. Being knocked down five times in the last seven fights, as well absorbing 6.69 strikes per minutes would normally spell a rough UFC tenure for many. However, not Burgos. Ranked fourteenth, the New York native also knows how to dish it out. With excellent cardio and high output, Burgos is among the top five all-time in the Featherweight division in significant strikes, significant strikes per minute, takedown defense and striking accuracy. Looking to test Burgos’ chin is Jourdain. A striker, Jourdain is technical, yet not afraid to sling it. With a solid arsenal on the feet, you can expect Jourdain to blend his strikes well with his kicking attacks. Not known for knockout power, Jourdain’s output has usually led to finishes later in the fight.

In a fight that could go either way, I’m going to side with Burgos. Defensive issues aside, Burgos’ pace, output and pressure should all be factors that ever so slightly aide him in swaying the judges. Plus, not that this is some x-factor, but Burgos is undefeated in New York. Of his seven wins in the UFC, six have come in the Big Apple. So with that said, I predict that Burgos will win via decision.

Embed from Getty Images

125 lbs.: Lauren Murphy vs. Miesha Tate – Originally supposed to happen at UFC 276, this Flyweight clash between Lauren Murphy and the former Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate was moved to this card after Murphy tested positive for COVID-19. Returning for the first time since losing a title fight against Valentina Shevchenko, Murphy comes into this fight looking to rebound. Still third in the Flyweight rankings, Murphy can put herself right back in title contention with a victory. Meanwhile, for the first time her career, Tate will drop down to 125 pounds. Having recently lost to Ketlen Vieira, Tate’s Bantamweight title fortunes went wayside. However, clearly seeing the Flyweight divisions shallowness, Tate could be a victory over Murphy from challenging Shevchenko.

Not sure what to expect when Tate makes her Flyweight debut, one could expect that she may find herself stronger. A key aspect that could aide her already solid grappling abilities, in getting the fight to the mat. With exceptional cardio and evolved striking, which has seen her land 187 significant strikes in the past two fights, Tate is becoming more well rounded than ever before. In fact, in regards to the strikes landed, you’d need to combine Tate’s previous six fights to match that total. Hungry to knock off the former champ though is Murphy. A well rounded fighter, who is as tough as nails, Murphy is comfortable wherever the fight goes. Not strong in anyone area however, Murphy is more of a generalist. A knock on the former title challenger, as not having a strength has seen her involved in several close fights.

In what should be a relatively close fight, I’m going to give the edge to Tate. Given her recent high output striking and already solid grappling, in this new foray at Flyweight, I could the former Champion succeed. Especially if Tate proves to be stronger, the takedown offense and defense will see vast improvement. With that said, in a close one, I predict that Tate wins via decision.


UFC Long Island ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (11 a.m. ET):

Embed from Getty Images

185 lbs.: Dalcha Lungiambula vs. Punahele Soriano – We have a showdown in the Middleweight division, as Punahele Soriano takes on Dalcha Lungiambula. Since starting out his career 8-0, with three of those wins coming inside the octagon, Soriano has stumbled of late. Dropping back-to-back fights, the Hawaiian finds himself in his first rut. Still only 29 years old and very skilled, Soriano luckily has time on his side to turn things around. Meanwhile, Lungiambula comes into this fight a loser of two straight and three of the last four. A former EFC Heavyweight Champion, Lungiambula has bounced around from Light Heavyweight to Middleweight in the UFC. Only 1-2 at 185 pounds, the physically imposing Lungiambula is finding out that regardless of size, the competition in the UFC is stiff.

With both guys needing a win, this should be an interesting fight. A former collegiate wrestler, Soriano has developed himself into a heavy handed slugger. With five of his eight wins coming via knockout, Soriano has proven that he is a legitimate threat on the feet. Coming off a fight against Nick Maximov, in which he was taken down eleven times, there is concern in his takedown defense. Then again, prior to that fight, Soriano had never been taken down. Perhaps looking at that Maximov fight though as a blueprint, is Lungiambula. A physical specimen with a Judo background, Lungiambula has power in his hands and some solid offensive wrestling. While he has been submitted twice, Lungiambula can be tough to deal with when he has top pressure. The knock on the Congo native, has been his cardio. Needing a lot of energy to feed his muscular build, Lungiambula has slowed at times in the later rounds.

In what could be a frantic fight, I’m going with Soriano. Despite what happened in his recent fight against Maximov, even if Lungiambula lands a few takedowns, Soriano has proven that he isn’t one to stay grounded. With a clear edge on the feet, in terms of technique and output, I believe Soriano will eventually land something impactful. Perhaps later in the fight, when Lungiambula fades. With that said, I predict that Soriano wins via TKO.

Embed from Getty Images

135 lbs.: Jack Shore vs. Ricky Simon – A pair of ranked fighters are set to clash in a pivotal fight in the Bantamweight division, as Ricky Simon takes on Jack Shore. A winner of four straight, two of which have been halted inside the distance, Simon is coming into his own. With several big names on resume like Merab Dvalishvili, Montel Jackson, Rani Yayha, Ray Borg and Raphael Assunacao, it’s time to start viewing Simon as a legit contender. Meanwhile, undefeated and newly ranked, Shore will look to continue his reign over the Bantamweight division. Having already won five fights inside the octagon, with the last being over Timur Valiev, Shore is destined to prove that he will be a contender in short order.

An excellent fight, this has the makings to be a war of nutrition. Simon is an absolute workhorse, who is amongst the best wrestlers in the division. All-time I might add, as Simon ranks second in the Bantamweight division in takedowns landed at thirty-five. On the feet, Simon can hold his own with pressure and a jab, but it’s no secret that he utilizes his striking to get inside and take foes down. Backed by endless cardio, Simon simply never slows down. Ready to embrace the pace, is Shore. Primarily a grappler, Shore has already landed eighteen takedowns in only five fights. Excellent in top control, Shore looks to soften opponents up with ground-and-pound to open up a submission. Given eight of sixteen wins have come via submission, it’s a sound method. No slouch on the feet, Shore is technical and precise. In fact, so precise, that he ranks second all-time in the Bantamweight division in significant strike accuracy at 59.9%.

A tough fight to predict, I’m leaning towards Shore. Given his grappling and ability to pop back up when taken down, I’m confident that Simon won’t be able to rack up ample control time to steal rounds. On the feet, Shore has a clear advantage. He’s the more comfortable striker, as well as active and accurate. If the Welshman can manage to keep this fight standing for the majority of the round, he should be able to sway the rounds in his favor. So with that said, I predict that Shore will win via decision.


145 lbs.: Bill Algeo vs. Herbert Burns – Sharing the same card, both Bill Algeo and Herbert Burns saw their opponent bow out due to injuries. Fortunately, being that they are both Featherweights, the UFC was able to keep them on the card by pairing them up. Coming off a victory over Joanderson Brito, Algeo will look to buck a pattern of wins and losses that have kept him from a win streak since 2018-2019. Having fought several names thus far in the division, Algeo has certainly gained a lot of experience in only four fights inside the octagon. Meanwhile, Burns returns to the octagon for the first time since losing to Daniel Pineda in August of 2020. Having faced a litany of injuries that caused Burns to pull out of two fights, it should be interesting to see if the Brazilian can get back on track.

Despite not originally being paired up, this is an excellent fight. Algeo is a well rounded fighter, who’s strength’s lie more so in his grappling. Being a BJJ black belt and having a collegiate wrestling background, Algeo’s ground skills have seen him win six of his fifteen victories via submission. No slouch on the feet, Algeo is an active striker with some serious kickboxing skills. The only knock on Algeo comes within his defense. Sporting iffy takedown and striking defense, Algeo is susceptible to being hit often and taken down with little resistance. To his credit however, with slick grappling abilities and solid cardio, Algeo does a great job reversing position. Very likely to test Algeo’s grappling is Burns. Brother of Gilbert Burns, the Brazilian is a ground specialist. Known for his excellent grappling, Burns has shown a knack for taking the back with ease and submitting opponents. With eight of his eleven wins coming via submission, Burns is not someone you’d want to be tangled up with on the mat.

A very tricky fight to call, I’m going to go with Algeo. While Burns should get this fight to the ground, and may even threaten a submission, Algeo has the grappling abilities to escape danger. Having not been caught via a submission since 2014, which was early in his career, there is some assurance that he can drag this fight into deep waters. Given Algeo’s cardio and high output striking, I believe he can takeover as this fight wanes. Although Burns has only been stopped once, I’m going on a limb here and saying Algeo wins via TKO.


205 lbs.: Dustin Jacoby vs. Da-un Jung – A pivotal clash takes place in the Light Heavyweight division, as Dustin Jacoby takes on Da Un Jung. Since returning to mixed martial arts in 2019, Jacoby has gone 7-0-1. With five of those wins coming inside the octagon, Jacoby has catapulted himself into the division’s top fifteen. Impressive for a guy who was once released by the UFC and left the sport for four years to kickbox. Meanwhile, Jung comes into this fight having not tasted defeat in over six years. Going 14-0-1 in his last fifteen fights, with four of those wins coming in the UFC, Jung has proven that he is someone to be reckon with. A victory away from being ranked, Jung has an opportunity here to show he belongs among the division’s best.

Despite being buried on the preliminary card, this is an excellent fight. Jacoby is a kickboxer, who’s very active and always trying to score points. Backed by excellent cardio, Jacoby can and will push the pace. Not necessarily a knockout artist, Jacoby looks to swarm opponents with volume to score his finishes. Sporting a 58% takedown defense, Jacoby is susceptible to being taken down. However, he does a good job of getting back to the feet. Looking to test that part of Jacoby’s abilities is Jung, who in addition to being a solid striker, has shown that he can wrestle. Landing eight takedowns against William Knight in a winning effort back in 2021, perhaps Jung mixes up his attack knowing that Jacoby is most vulnerable on the ground.

In what I expect to be a fun fight, I’m backing Jung. While this prediction may bite me, knowing that Jacoby’s cardio could play a difference in the later rounds, I believe that Jung can mix in a few takedowns to secure some rounds. Knowing that Jung’s striking is excellent too, as well as the fact that he’s got the power edge, I’m certain he can also win this fight on the feet too. With that said, I predict that Jung will win via decision.

Embed from Getty Images

185 lbs.: Dwight Grant vs. Dustin Stoltzfus – A potential pink-slip fight comes in the Welterweight division, as Dwight Grant takes on Dustin Stoltzfus. A loser of two straight and three of the last four, Grant comes into this fight needing to right the ship. Having had a hard time finding his footing inside the octagon, only winning three of his seven fights with the promotion, Grant’s tenure with the UFC could be determined by this fight. Meanwhile, Stoltzfus urgently needs a victory. A loser of three straight, all of which have come in the UFC, Stoltzfus has been afforded a rare opportunity to not make the same mistake a fourth time.

This is good matchmaking, as one of these gentleman need to get their careers back on track. Obviously Stoltzfus is down worse, but I don’t think Grant is any safer to remain on the roster with another loss. A striker with excellent power, Grant has made a living off sending foes into the shadow realm. However, his hesitancy to throw strikes has been a huge crux in his career. In seven UFC fights, Grant’s highest significant strike total was 49. Add in the fact that he has been involved in four split decisions in those seven fights, and it’s evident why he hasn’t had much success thus far inside the octagon. As for Stoltzfus, he’s mainly a grappler. A good one at that, who quite frankly, has been fed to three grappling wolves during his UFC tenure. Known to have good wrestling and excellent submissions, Stoltzfus may finally get to showcase his skills against someone who isn’t a BJJ wizard.

Although this fight is a bit of a crapshoot, I favor Stoltzfus to notch his first UFC victory. Knowing Grant’s hesitancy on the feet and the fact that Stoltzfus has never been stopped due to strikes, I’m not overly concerned when these two strike. My concern however is if Stoltzfus can get this fight to mat. Seeing how Grant has been taken down in four of his last seven fights, there seems to be an opening. A small one though perhaps, as only once in those four, has Grant been taken down more than once. Regardless, knowing Stoltzfus needs a win and given his wrestling being key, I like his chances. So with that said, I predict that Stoltzfus wins via decision.


115 lbs.: Jessica Penne vs. Emily Ducote – The curtain jerker comes in the Women’s Strawweight division, as former title challenger Jessica Penne takes on newcomer Emily Ducote. Since returning to the octagon after a lengthy suspension, Penne, in the midst of seven fight cancellations, has rattled off two consecutive wins. Number fourteen in the Strawweight rankings, Penne at 39 years old, comes into this fight presumably on her last title run. Meanwhile, after fighting for the likes of Bellator and Invicta FC, Ducote will try and test her metal with the best in the UFC. Currently a winner of three straight, two of which came inside the distance, Ducote is coming into her UFC debut with excellent momentum.

The last seven years have been rough for Penne. After losing three straight fights, Penne was hit with a four-year ban (reduced to 20 months), after a second drug test infraction with USADA. Upon her return, she has faced seven fight cancellations. Throughout all that, she won her first fight in over six years and followed that up with a submission victory over Karolina Kowalkiewicz. A known grappler, who’s lengthy and has excellent submissions, Penne is a dangerous fighter to grapple with. On the feet is a different story, as she is vulnerable to getting pieced up. However, to Penne’s credit, her scrappiness and toughness have aided her in edging out fights. Maybe not the best strategy in this particular fight though, as Ducote has some legitimate power in her hands. An excellent signing by the UFC, the former collegiate wrestler has the abilities and finishing prowess that will give a lot of Strawweight’s fits. A name to watch, the former Invicta FC Champion has a huge opportunity to crack the division’s top fifteen with only one victory.

A fun fight to open the card, I believe that Ducote will prevail in her UFC debut. While I am concerned about the size and grappling of Penne, her window of opportunity has usually come early in the fight. Sporting a 20% takedown accuracy in the UFC, Penne has scored five takedowns in fourteen attempts in round one. After that, she has only landed two takedowns in twenty-one attempts. In brief, as long as Ducote can avoid danger in round one, her striking and power will take over the fight. In the end, I foresee a knockout victory for Ducote.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.