The UFC heads to Long Island for a fight night event with a live crowd, as two featherweight contenders go head-to-head in the main event when Brian Ortega takes on Yair Rodriguez.
A very solid card will see plenty of excellent fights, with the 145-pound eliminator bout right at the top of the card. We’ll also see the likes of Li Jingliang, Michelle Waterson, Jack Shore, Shane Burgos and Miesha Tate.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 58 we went 7/11 with two perfect picks, moving us to 656/1020 (64.31%) with 281 perfect picks (42.84%). You can check out our full picks history here.
Lauren Murphy (15-5) vs Miesha Tate (19-8) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
An interesting flyweight bout that was rescheduled after a late cancellation off UFC 276. Murphy saw a five-fight win streak snapped when she challenged Valentina Shevchenko for the title in her last bout, getting dominated at UFC 266 for a KO defeat. Tate won on her UFC return against Marion Reneau, but was beaten last time out by Ketlen Vieira via decision.
Murphy is a great striker, no two ways about it. She’s a rangy fighter who looks to use her size to kick and hit strikes from distance, claiming eight wins via knockout in her career. She has just one KO win since 2016 though. Tate on the other hand is a bit of an all-rounder, but it’s her wrestling that separates her from other fighters and got her a world championship once upon a time. If she’s going to win this bout, then she’s got to work that wrestling to the best of her ability.
Tate is a dog, in the sense that she never gives in and is always persevering. Murphy is undoubtedly going to look to box and use her jab, but Tate will walk forwards until she gets her hands on her and as the naturally bigger fighter she shouldn’t struggle to get the fight down. Once it’s there, she’s in her own world and she should be able to dominate the fight. I don’t think she’ll be able to get the finish, but that advantage should be able to claim her the victory at the very least.
PICK – Miesha Tate via Decision
Shane Burgos (14-3) vs Charles Jourdain (13-4-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
An absolutely insane fight at featherweight between two of the division’s most exciting athletes. Burgos snapped a two-fight losing streak when he earned a decision over Billy Quarantillo at UFC 268, while Jourdain is on a two-fight win streak with a decision against Andre Ewell before submitting Lando Vannata last time out.
Burgos is a terrific boxer with superb hand speed and power as well as counter striking. He does however also get hit an awful lot and relies heavily upon his durability to get into all-out wars with his opponents. Jourdain is also someone who looks to get into wars to try and catch his opponents with his speed and power. This is going to be a war, no doubt about it.
Stylistically they’re very similar, but I do feel that Burgos is the more powerful and more technical striker. Jourdain has never been KO’d before in his career, but Burgos is the best fighter he’s ever come up against. With a big reach advantage to work with, I expect Burgos will use his jab effectively and be able to land first in the wild exchanges to be able to claim a FOTN bonus and a win on the judge’s scorecards.
PICK – Shane Burgos via Decision
Matt Schnell (15-6) vs Sudumaerji (16-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
A fun flyweight scrap between two top guys in the division up next. Schnell has picked up just one win in his last four, suffering a submission defeat to Brandon Royval in the first round back at UFC 274. Sudumaerji on the other hand has won three in a row, with a decision win over Zarrukh Adashev in his most recent bout back at UFC Fight Island 8 in January 2020.
Schnell is an excellent submission artist, with eight victories by way of tap out in his career. He’s a very good wrestler and has got solid striking too, but he struggles to mix things together which often leaves him in limbo. Sudumaerji on the other hand is a powerful striker with great footwork, but he struggles against takedowns and his grappling isn’t the best. These two are essentially polar opposites when it comes to fight styles.
I expect Sudumaerji will stay on the outside and use his striking skills while trying to maintain distance, while Schnell will look to close him down against the cage to get the fight into his submission world. The fact it’s orthodox vs southpaw means Sudumaerji’s striking will be even more at an advantage because his power strikes will have more space to land. With that, I think he should be able to push on past Schnell and higher up the rankings to claim an impressive win.
PICK – Sudumaerji via Knockout, Round 2
Li Jingliang (18-7) vs Muslim Salikhov (18-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A very fun welterweight scrap up next. Li is seen as a top prospect in the weight class despite being 34, but got dominated by Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 267 before being choked out last time out. Salikhov is on a five-fight win streak, with his last three all coming via decisions.
Li is a powerful striker who has got explosive traits and also got solid grappling skills too, as proven in his five submission wins during his career. Salikhov on the other hand is one of the most skilled strikers in MMA history, although his volume and technique outweighs his power these days. This fight depends on which approach Li takes in all honesty, because he’s capable of going both ways.
Salikhov will strike no matter what. Li prefers to strike when he has the opportunity, but he will know that is a dangerous game against someone as skilled as “King of Kung Fu”. That means he could look to mix it up and use his grappling here and he will have a big advantage in that field. If he just chooses to strike he’ll probably lose, but I don’t expect that to be his game plan and he should be able to grapple enough to earn the win.
PICK – Li Jingliang via Decision
Michelle Waterson (18-9) vs Amanda Lemos (11-2-1) – (Strawweight/115lbs)
Considering the calibre of fight on show on this card, this co-main event is a little underwhelming. Waterson has lost three of her last four fights, with Marina Rodriguez claiming a decision against her last time out. Lemos on the other hand saw a five-fight win streak snapped last time out when she was submitted by Jessica Andrade in the first round.
Waterson’s nickname “The Karate Hottie” explains her style off the bat. She has a stand-up stance that keeps her distance and she likes to use kicks and manage distance well, but she’s also a pretty good grappler with decent wrestling skills in her back pocket. Lemos is a powerhouse striker on the feet, with seven wins in her career via KO who comes forward and knows she can end fights in an instant. This seems like quite a lopsided fight.
Lemos has a huge power advantage and will come forward with pressure plenty. Waterson will use her sidekick to try to maintain distance, but once Lemos gets past that she’s in danger. While I don’t think Waterson will be KO’d as she is pretty durable, Lemos is powerful enough to cause plenty of damage and keep the fight standing for the most part to claim a win.
PICK – Amanda Lemos via Decision
Brian Ortega (15-2) vs Yair Rodriguez (14-3) – (Featherweight/145lbs)
Fight of the night and one of the most exciting match ups of the year. Ortega has fought for the title in two of his last three fights and been dominated, with Alexander Volkanovski smashing him at UFC 266 in his last outing. He dominated the Korean Zombie in between those fights though at UFC Fight Island 6. Rodriguez saw a three fight unbeaten run snapped by Max Holloway last time out, in one of the best fights of 2021 at UFC Vegas 42.
Ortega is a lethal jiu-jitsu practitioner with some of the best submissions in the UFC, but his striking has improved massively in recent years and he’s now a confident boxer too. Rodriguez on the other hand is an incredible striker with some of the best kicks in the UFC, with incredible speed and power on the end of them. His grappling defence isn’t the greatest though, as Holloway showed by taking him down and controlling him in the last fight. Stylistically, this is undoubtedly an incredible close fight.
Both guys will be happy to stand and strike, and if that’s the case then Ortega will be in trouble. He has been out-struck a lot in his career but his boxing is decent and any kicks will give him the chance to catch them and take the fight to the ground. If the fight is to end via knockout then it’s more likely to be a Rodriguez win, but with Ortega’s sensational grappling skills he seems to have more paths to victory and that leans me towards him getting the fight down to the mat and finding “El Pantera”‘s neck eventually to claim an impressive win.
PICK – Brian Ortega via Submission, Round 3