After falling short against the division’s elite, Brian Ortega and Yair Rodriguez will attempt to prove they still belong at the top of the Featherweight division this Saturday (July 16, 2022) when they headline UFC Long Island inside UBS Arena in Belmont Park, New York. The ABC-televised card will also see Michelle Waterson square off with Amanda Lemos, Li Jingliang trade hands with fellow Welterweight finisher Muslim Salikhov, and Sumudaerji end a lengthy layoff against Matt Schnell.
Three more UFC Long Island “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to be examined (check out the first batch here). Let’s get cracking …
135 lbs.: Ricky Simon vs. Jack Shore
A three-fight win streak, which included victories over division standouts Merab Dvalishvili and Montel Jackson, had Ricky Simon (19-3) on the brink of contention before he suffered consecutive losses to Urijah Faber and Rob Font. He’s since clawed his way back by winning four straight, the most recent of which saw him knockout Raphael Assuncao in Dec. 2021.
He gives up two inches of height and reach to “Tank.”
Jack Shore (16-0) entered the Octagon as the Cage Warriors Bantamweight champion, and his current 5-0 UFC run proved it wasn’t a case of a big fish in a small pond. His biggest win to date came in March 2022, when he out-dueled Timur Valiev to claim an entertaining decision victory.
He has submitted eight professional foes and knocked out another six.
This is eerily reminiscent of Shore’s match up with Valiev, which isn’t a great sign for Simon. Like “Lucky,” Simon has the speed and footwork advantage, plus a strong wrestling game that can give even the rock-solid “Tank” issues. Also like “Lucky,” Simon is cursed with a shaky chin that doomed him against Faber and kept him from building any momentum against Font. While Shore isn’t a one-punch knockout artist, he’s skilled enough and packs enough thump to short-circuit Simon.
All signs point to a super-competitive, back-and-forth battle on both the feet and mat, with Shore’s more telling power shots making the difference. In the end, enjoy another classic from this insanely stacked division.
Prediction: Shore via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Punahele Soriano vs. Dalcha Lungiambula
After taking his first trip to the judges on Contender Series, Punahele Soriano (8-2) returned to his finishing ways with first round knockouts of Oskar Piechota and Dusko Todorovic. He’s since struggled to reclaim that momentum, dropping consecutive decisions to fellow Contender Series alums Brendan Allen and Nick Maximov.
His seven professional stoppage wins include five via (technical) knockout.
Dalcha Lungiambula started his UFC career 2-1 after a double-champ run in the venerable EFC promotion, the one loss coming to Magomed Ankalaev. Despite the early success, he enters the cage this Saturday in the midst of a two-fight skid.
“Champion” stands three inches shorter than Soriano, but will enjoy a 3.5-inch reach advantage.
Lungiambula just can’t seem to combine his immense athleticism, judo background and punching power into a cohesive whole. His boxing hasn’t developed properly and he’s yet to find a pace he can sustain while still being effective. Soriano also may be less than the sum of his parts, but his durability, stout wrestling, and concussive left hand are a formula for success in this match up.
There just isn’t a clear path to victory for Lungiambula. Indeed, he can’t outbox Soriano, can’t crack that concrete dome, and can’t consistently take him down. In short, Soriano finds the mark with something nasty as soon as Lungiambula’s gas tank runs out.
Prediction: Soriano via second round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Bill Algeo vs. Herbert Burns
Though he came up short against Brendan Loughnane on Contender Series, Bill Algeo (15-6) got his UFC opportunity by stepping up on short notice to battle Ricardo Lamas to a “Fight of the Night” decision loss. “Senor Perfecto” is now evened up his UFC record at 2-2, a loss to Ricardo Lamas sandwiched between wins over Spike Carlyle and Joanderson Brito.
He was originally slated to meet Billy Quarantillo, while Burns had a date with Khusein Askhabov.
“The Heat” followed his submission win on Contender Series with consecutive first round finishes over Nate Landwehr and Even Dunham. Then came a disastrous run-in with Daniel Pineda that saw Burns miss weight before getting ground-and-pounded into oblivion.
This marks his first appearance in nearly two years.
As disappointed as I am that we won’t get to see Algeo and Quarantillo bounce a dozen punches off of each other’s heads every minute, I do love the matchmaking here. Algeo’s height, movement and volume could be a nightmare for Burns, especially after a huge layoff. If “Senor Perfecto” can drag Burns into the second round, he’s got the tools to snowball the way Pineda did.
That’s a hell of an “if,” though.
That’s because everyone who’s tried to take down Algeo in the Octagon has succeeded, and while Algeo was never in danger on the ground against a decorated black belt in Ricardo Ramos, Burns is on another level. So long as he’s got the weight cut figured out, Burns drags Algeo to the mat early and finds his neck soon after.
Prediction: Burns via first round submission
UFC Long Island’s main event is pure chaos, and you don’t want to miss slugfests like Li vs. Salikhov and Burgos vs. Jourdain. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Prediction Record for 2022: 98-49
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Long Island fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 2 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Long Island: “Ortega vs. Yair” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.