Profitable in 4 straight UFC cards, I look to continue the streak in Long Island with a phenomenal card headlined with two Featherweights desperate to have their chance at Alexander Volkanovski and the throne. They‘re the rightful headliner, but there’s stars lined up and down this card that will entertain. We won’t be getting snoozer fights like Adesanya, we’ll be provided fireworks from the first fight all the way to the afternoon main event. Let’s get rolling!
Jessica Penne vs. Emily Ducote (-150)
38-year-old Jessica Penne enters Saturday on the back of a much needed 2 fight win streak after losing 3 straight to fighters named Jessica Andrade and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. She’s a submission specialist on the ground and her stand up game is poor at best. She’s utilizes awkward judo throws to get her opponents on the ground or just welcomes them into her trap. Emily Ducote is a former Invicta champion who excels wherever the fight goes. Her standup game is miles better than Ducote, highlighted by kicks to all 3 levels and patience to not push into bad positions. She utilizes her jab well and has knockout power in her right hand (see her fight against Danielle Taylor). Expect the fighter 11 years younger to keep her range and not go to the mat with the savvy Penne, and potentially win this before the judges.
Pick: Ducote -150 (2u)
Dwight Grant vs. Dustin Stoltzfus (+115)
Dwight Grant is 37 years old and moving up a weight class to face a more crisp striker in Dustin Stoltzfus. He’s lost 2 in a row (KO’d in his last) and though he has absolute dynamite in his hands I’m interested to see how that holds up moving up in weight, especially since Grant uses almost exclusively looping shots that leave him wide open. He doesn’t throw kicks and leaves his chin up when swinging in the pocket in an effort to avoid shots, a sure-fire way to get knocked out. Stoltzfus is no stud, he’s 0-3 in the UFC but is a more well-rounded striker. Where he makes his name is in the grappling, picking up multiple submissions in various ways. He’s active on top with advancing positions and laying on the damage int he process. Give me the more well-rounded fighter to avoid the big shots of Grant and pick up either a submission or decision victory.
Pick: Stoltzfus +115 (1u)
Chris Unger - Zuffa LLC
Dustin Jacoby vs Da Un Jung (-120)
Two undefeated fighters in the UFC come to take the zero off the other in Jacoby vs Jung. One thing that pops out when watching tape on both of these guys is that they are both huge for the weight class and move well. Jacoby in particular is a lot of smoke and mirrors, moving his head and feet consistently but not providing much volume. He’s got a wide array of kicks from his kickboxing background and uses elbows well in the clinch. Nothing is flashy but it’s solid. My main cause for concern is that he tends to stay in opponent’s range after his attacks to get tagged back, even though he eats it well. Jung is much more of a technical boxer who works his left jab and right straight very well. He’s defensively sound and patient in finding his gaps to strike. Not only is he exceptional in the boxing range, he exposed William Knight with 8 takedowns and 12 minutes of control time. I’ll take the more complete mixed martial artist in Jung to get it done and notch a massive victory to put a staple on his career.
Pick: Jung -120 (1u)
Bill Algeo vs. Herbert Burns (+155)
The younger brother of Gilbert Burns makes his longawaited return to the octagon after 2 years off, and I hope for his sake he’s worked on his cardio. Where one fighter is great the other lacks, and that’s the story of this fight. Burns has excellent BJJ and Algeo’s takedown defense is horrible, but Burns is slow and poor on the feet where Algeo is quick, rangy, and can go for all 15 minutes. Burns’ best avenue for success in this fight is to win in the first round because after that Bill will dominate. I’ll take Burns to win in round 1 or 2 and hedge it with Algeo in R3 or by decision.
Pick: Burns R1 or 2 +350 (.5u) & Algeo R3 or Dec +125 (.5u)
Ricky Simon vs Jack Shore (-165)
Make your beer run long before these guys take the octagon because this might be the best fight of the evening, all jokes aside. Ricky Simon‘s mullet vs Jack Shore’s skinhead is a fight that should be on the main event but we’re blessed to watch it while eating our lunch. Jack Shore boasts an undefeated UFC record and is the new hottest prospect in Bantamweight, while Ricky Simon is on his own 4 fight winning streak after losing to Urijah Faber and Rob Font. Two okay fighters right? Simon beat 12th ranked Assuncao in his last fight and boasts a frantic pace highlighted with powerful kicks and expert wrestling. He’s completes it all with good defensive head movement and a right hook that shuts people‘s lights out. Shore fought more recently, beating Valiev in February. Also defensively sound, has a profound way of getting in range to land his strike and backing out to avoid the counter, somewhat like Max Holloway. He’s lightning quick and his biggest assets are his versatility and endurance. This fight should be 15 minutes of top tier striking as both should be able to defend well for 15. I’m not sure who will win this, but I do know we’ll get 15 minutes of pure entertainment. Take the over.
Pick: Fight to go the Distance -200 Parlayed with Amanda Lemos -325 for -104 (1u)
Jeff Bottari - Zuffa LLC
Punahele Soriano vs. Dalcha Lungiambula (+197)
Punahele is coming into Long Island on a 2 fight losing streak to Brendan Allen and Nick Maximov. Allen is making his way to the title and Maximov won due to 11 takedowns nad almost 9 minutes of control time even though Puna did far more damage. In the Allen fight Puna showed some good moments with powerful shots from the outside but he doesn’t offer many kicks and has to crash in to land. Lungiambula‘s losses were slightly worse, coming to the hands of Cody Brundage and Marc-Andre Barriault. Much like Puna he loads everything into wide power shots, but Dalcha puts his head down when doing so. In the loss against Brundage he actually showed a good grappling prowess, controlling the first 150 seconds and landing power shots in the process. He got caught by Brundage jumping guillotine and that was all she wrote. Given both of these guys such a similar style but Dalcha has a potential wrestling advantage, I don’t see why this line is as one-sided as it is. I’ll take the dog to get it done.
Pick: Lungiambula +197 (1u)
Shane Burgos vs. Charles Jourdain (+140)
If you disagreed with me earlier when I said the Ricky Simon fight would be the fight of the night, this fight is probably why. Burgos is 5-2 in his last 7 coming into this fight with losses to Edson Barbosa and Josh Emmett and wins against Cub Swanson and Billy Quarantillo. He’s been facing the top tier talent for a long time now and is willing to take a punch to give one. He’s sinks his kicks deep into the legs and body and occasionally moves up to the head. He tends to take a lot of damage in the first round as his opponent tires out then builds up a head of steam in the 2nd and 3rd rounds and is a true 8-weapon striker, utilizing his knees and elbows well. Jourdain has won 3 of his last 4 with his best win being against Lando Vannata. His lone loss came to an incredibly talented Julian Erosa. There’s not much I can say about Jourdain that won’t sound like you’re just reading what I wrote above a second time. He’s nearly identical to Burgos, just a little worse. He attacks the head with kicks a little more often but tends to explode into range. I think Burgos has the power advantage in this fight and if they get into consistenty exchanges in the pocket Burgos will win those throughout. I’ll be paying a bit of juice to take him, but give me Burgos.
Pick: Burgos -170 (1u)
Matt Schnell vs. Sumudaerji (-290)
Matt Schnell has lost his last 2 fights to some of the best in his division in Bontorin and Brendan Royval. The Royval fight was always a tough one for Schnell because whatever Schnell does, Royval does just a tick better. Matt was able to knock down Royval in the first round and scramble on top of him, but made a mistake in jumping on a choke which lost him position and Royval capitalized immediately and ended the fight. Sumudaerji has won 3 straight fights against much lesser competition than Matt Schnell and hasn’t entered the octagon in 18 months. In his fights he’s shown great head movement, speed and showcases some phenomenal arsenal of kicks. Sumudaerji has been waiting to break through in the division and Schnell is the opportunity to do so. I don‘t think he passes this test as Schnell is the much more well-rounded fighter and can win this fight wherever it goes.
Pick: Schnell +220 (1u)
Josh Hedges - Zuffa LLC
Li Jingliang vs. Muslim Salikhov (-175)
Muslim is on a 5 fight winning streak in the UFC but all against lower-tier talent. He hasn’t fought in over a year and is well-beyond his prime at 38 years of age And his last win was against Francisco Trinaldo who was 42 at the time of that fight. He’s gigantic for the weight class and is heavy footed, and what makes him good is how accurate and powerful he is. He’s got surprising dexterity with kicks but struggles with volume. He shows a lot of feints but doesn’t score much with a consistent attack. “The Leetch” is still hoping to make his way up to a title fight even though he lost his last fight to Khamzat Chimaev. In his fight before that he knocked out Santiago Ponzinibbio with an incredible left hook and looked phenomenal doing so. He shows leg kicks just like Muslim, and utilizes good head movement and unorthodox timing to get in and out before counters. I’ll take yet another dog to get it done
Pick: Jingliang +140 (1u)
Jeff Bottari - Zuffa LLC
Brian Ortega vs. Yair Rodriguez (+142)
T-City takes on one of his toughest tests in an effort to get a rematch versus the man he made look like a grape in Volkanovski. Ever since Ortega added new elements of striking to his game he’s been just a tier below Max and Volkanovski. We all know how good his grappling and squeeze is in his choke, and nobody questions his durability but I’m sure his mother would appreciate a little less damage consumed. Having faced Holloway and Volkanovski these isn’t much new that Ortega could face, but Yair creates a different element he hasn’t seen before. The forward pressure and versatile kicks that Yair uses could create problems for Ortega on the feet and I do think he’ll have a distinct advantage there. He’s got decent defensive wrestling to counter Brian Ortega’s takedowns so this fight stays on this feet which is where I believe think Yair might make yet another mess of Ortega’s face. He looked great against Max Holloway in his last fight (albeit a loss) and I think he gets over the hump and sees Volkanovski soon in a title bout.
Pick: Yair Rodriguez +142 (1.5u)