The Bloody Elbow staff has made its picks for Saturday’s UFC Long Island event, and we’re unanimously picking Brian Ortega over Yair Rodriguez in the much anticipated main event. As for the co-main, only Connor Ruebusch is picking Michelle Waterson over Amanda Lemos in this battle of women’s strawweights.
To see the latest betting lines for these fights, head over to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Zane Simon entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.
Brian Ortega vs. Yair Rodriguez
Mookie Alexander: I’m shocked that we’re unanimous on this. There are so many different ways this fight can go, but the one that I see as most likely is Rodriguez winning rounds but losing the fight. This has been a theme for a few of Ortega’s best wins and he really is one of the sport’s great opportunists. It just takes one slip and fall from a Rodriguez kick for T-City to pounce, take the back, and lock up a choke. So many of Ortega’s previous foes have had to play a game of minesweeper with Ortega and usually their gameplan gets blown up. Ortega is a more technical striker than he used to be but that doesn’t mean I’d back him to outstrike Rodriguez. Both of their chins are exemplary so it’ll take a lot to knock either one of them out. For all of Yair’s flashiness and offensive creativity, I fear for him that his brilliance will be used against him and Ortega is going to tap him out. Brian Ortega by submission, round 4.
Zane Simon: I’m really split on this. On the one hand, Brian Ortega rarely ever outpaces his opponents, and the one time he did, I’d have to chalk it mostly up to the Korean Zombie’s inability to fight past Ortega’s jab. That’s not a problem Yair seems to be especially prone to, considering his variety of range tools, toughness, and stamina. Which leaves me thinking that for most of this fight, it’s going to look a lot like a bout that Yair Rodriguez is winning, based purely on volume and speed. But, even at the best of times for Rodriguez, his performances are rarely clean. He overthrows things a lot, gets off balance a lot, makes some questionable grappling decisions, and can get put in bad positions. Even if Ortega is losing most of this fight, if he gets even one opening that could be enough to tap Rodriguez out. Both men are durable as hell standing, so I can’t bet on the KO. Brian Ortega by submission, round 3.
Staff picking Ortega: Mookie, Zane, Dayne, Stephie, Connor, Victor
Staff picking Rodriguez:
Michelle Waterson vs. Amanda Lemos
Mookie Alexander: Worried about Lemos’ takedown defense against Waterson’s wrestling but otherwise Lemos is the much heavier hitter and will be able to land the more damaging shots over the course of the fight. Waterson is hard to put away, so if this gets to a third round it could be interesting. Amanda Lemos by decision.
Zane Simon: If Waterson does a TON of wrestling she might be able to edge out an ugly decision. But Lemos’ takedown defense is pretty strong early in in fights and she hits really hard. I’ll take her to pick up at least the first two rounds. Amanda Lemos by decision.
Staff picking Waterson: Connor
Staff picking Lemos: Mookie, Zane, Dayne, Stephie, Victor
Li Jingliang vs. Muslim Salikhov
Mookie Alexander: I feel like I should change my pick. Jingliang tends to lose to fighters who have a distinct wrestling advantage and Salikhov is going to strike with him. And yet I am mesmerized by the King of Kung Fu, plus my track record of changing picks last-minute is very poor. Muslim Salikhov by decision.
Zane Simon: Salikhov just might KO Li Jingliang, but if he did, that’d make him the first man to do it. And fighters who don’t KO the ‘Leech’ tend to have to spend significant time controlling him on the mat. Something Salikhov seems intensely unlikely to do. Instead, I’ll pick Jingliang to have a disastrous first round and push the pace the rest of the way for the decision win. Maybe even a late TKO? Li Jingliang by decision.
Staff picking Jingliang: Zane, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Salikhov: Mookie, Dayne, Connor
Matt Schnell vs. Sumudaerji
Mookie Alexander: Schnell is the more well-rounded fighter and he could have Sumudaerji in a lot of trouble if this becomes more about grappling than striking. But his chin is historically not reliable and Sumudaerji hits very hard, so Sumudaerji by KO, round 2.
Zane Simon: Schnell is very likely the more well rounded fighter between the two of them, and has great reach parity with Sumudaerji. Hell, in a vacuum, he might even be the cleaner puncher. But, he can also very easily be drawn into a brawl, and tends to have to have a grappling bout forced on him. Sumudaerji is really consistent about circling out and countering off the back foot. If his length gives Schnell some problems and forces him to wade in, I get the feeling he’ll be eating a lot of shots on the way. Sumudaerji via KO, round 2.
Staff picking Schnell: Connor
Staff picking Sumudaerji: Mookie, Zane, Dayne, Stephie
Shane Burgos vs. Charles Jourdain
Mookie Alexander: Banger! This is a great fight and one that’s not that easy to pick. Burgos’ damage absorption levels are extraordinarily high at the moment but at some point that could catch up to him in an ugly way, especially against a talented striker in Jourdain. If Charles can fight through Burgos’ pressure and volume I give him a good shot to win, but Burgos is hard to dissuade from coming forward and his lethal work to the body I believe will be his key to victory. Shane Burgos by TKO, round 3.
Zane Simon: Burgos relies a whole hell of a lot on his chin to absorb damage as he pressures and creates pocket boxing opportunities. And if Jourdain were even just more active in throwing off his back foot, I might pick him to land a big enough shot somewhere down the line to put Burgos away. After all, it’s happened before. But, Jourdain tends to be at his most tentative and least dangerous when moving backwards. If Burgos can keep pressure high, I think he can regularly come out ahead of the striking battle. Shane Burgos via decision.
Staff picking Burgos: Mookie, Zane, Dayne, Stephie, Victor
Staff picking Jourdain: Connor
Lauren Murphy vs. Miesha Tate
Mookie Alexander: I don’t think Tate at 125 will work out. This fight is very dependent on how effectively she can wrestle Murphy, and if the answer is “not effectively at all” then she’s going to get outworked and lose this fight. Lauren Murphy by decision.
Zane Simon: I’m not 100% sold on Tate’s move to 125, and I’m not 100% sold on her newfound striking tools. If Tate can’t get Murphy down with ease in the big cage, I think she’ll put herself into a lot of exchanges where she’s eating three shots to land two. Part of that is on Murphy to realize where her advantages are and pull the trigger when she has the chance. But I think Tate will force a good fight out of Murphy rather than letting her hang herself the way she did against Shevchenko. Lauren Murphy by decision.
Staff picking Murphy: Mookie, Zane, Stephie, Connor
Staff picking Tate: Dayne, Victor
Jack Shore vs. Ricky Simon
Mookie Alexander: This fight shouldn’t be on the prelims. I don’t know which fight to knock off — maybe Jingliang vs. Salikhov? — but this great matchup isn’t even the featured prelim! Jack Shore by decision.
Zane Simon: I really like the improvements that Simon has made lately. Especially his counterpunching and willingness to throw with evil intentions inside, since opponents always have to fear his takedowns first. But, if that fight against Rob Font showed anything, it’s that Simon has a lot of trouble fighting past a jab. And Jack Shore has a fantastic jab. Maybe that’s changed somewhat. After all, Simon’s showed more head movement and craft when it comes to getting into the pocket. But he still lacks any kind of nuanced range game, and I think Shore is just too clean and technical and consistent from distance to ever let Simon turn a little success into a lot of momentum. Jack Shore by decision.
Staff picking Shore: Mookie, Zane, Dayne, Stephie, Connor
Staff picking Simon:
This poll is closed