Two of the Featherweight division’s most lethal finishers duke it out this Saturday evening (July 16, 2022) when Brian Ortega and Yair Rodriguez look to steal the show inside UBS Arena in Belmont Park, New York. UFC Long Island will also feature a Strawweight clash between Michelle Waterson and Amanda Lemos, as well as a potential slugfest for the ages pitting Li Jingliang against Muslim Salikhov.
Assorted issues have cut the “Prelims” undercard total down to six bouts, so enjoy the first batch of three below:
205 lbs.: Dustin Jacoby vs. Da Un Jung
The victory for Dustin Jacoby (17-5-1) on Contender Series brought him back to the Octagon, where he’s gone 5-0-1 in his second tenure. He last saw action in March 2022, fighting through injury to claim a unanimous decision over Michal Oleksiejczuk.
“The Hanyak” is the shorter man by one inch and gives up 1.5 inches of reach.
Da Un Jung (15-2-1) looked every bit as destructive as advertised in his stoppage victories over Khadis Ibragimov and Mike Rodriguez, though he was fortunate to walk away with a split draw against Sam Alvey. “Sseda” hasn’t needed that sort of luck since, dominating Contender Series graduates William Knight and Kennedy Nzechukwu in successive efforts.
The Nzechukwu win was his eleventh by knockout and thirteenth stoppage overall.
Outside of his raw power, there’s not a lot going Jung’s way here: he’s flat-footed enough to make Jacoby’s low kicks a lethal weapon and he doesn’t always do a great job of protecting his face. That power isn’t enough to bridge the gap, either, as Jacoby has withstood dozens of blows from heavy hitters like Ion Cutelaba and John Allan.
Jung does have some wrestling in his back pocket, which he used to great effect against Knight, but Jacoby has proven exceedingly difficult to hold down of late. With all the tools to recreate Sam Alvey’s successes and a better overall striking game behind it, expect Jacoby to steadily break down Jung’s legs before polishing his flagging foe off late.
Prediction: Jacoby via third round technical knockout
185 lbs.: Dwight Grant vs. Dustin Stoltzfus
Dwight Grant (11-5) bounced back from a shock UFC debut loss to Zak Ottow with a bonus-winning one-punch knockout of Carlo Pedersoli, then narrowly edged out Alan Jouban to bump his UFC record over .500. “The Body Snatcher” went on to lose three of his next four, bookended by knockout losses to Daniel Rodriguez and Sergey Khandozhko.
This will be his first Middleweight bout in more than one decade.
An injury stoppage of Joseph Pyfer extended Dustin Stoltzfus’ (13-4) win streak to five and earned him a spot in the Octagon. He’s still looking for his first victory there, having dropped three straight to Kyle Daukaus, Rodolfo Vieira and Gerald Meerschaert.
He’s scored five submissions as a professional.
Moving up to 185 pounds won’t fix what ails Grant. His disinclination or inability to tighten up his boxing will forever hold him back, and fighting bigger men makes it even less likely that his power can bail him out. The fact that he’s given up at least one takedown to six of his last seven foes also bodes ill for his ability to keep it standing.
Limited though Stoltzfus may be, the offensive wrestling he showed against Meerschaert offers a convenient means to shut down Grant’s haymakers and grind out a decision. Unless Stoltzfus gets lazy with his kicks and eats one of Grant’s admittedly effective counters, Stoltzfus cruises to victory from the top in a dull affair.
Prediction: Stoltzfus via unanimous decision
115 lbs.: Jessica Penne vs. Emily Ducote
Nearly four years to the day after losing a bogus decision to Danielle Taylor, Jessica Penne (14-5) returned to UFC to upset Lupita Godinez by decision. Four months later, she one-upped herself by tapping Karolina Kowalkiewicz with a bonus-winning first-round armbar.
That submission was her ninth in more than 15 years as a professional.
Emily Ducote’s (11-6) first shot at Invicta gold saw her struggle with the wrestling of Kanako Murata en route to a split decision loss. She was quite a bit more successful her next time out, destroying Danielle Taylor for the vacant title and stopping Alesha Zappitella in her first defense.
She steps in for Brianna Fortino on less than two months’ notice.
Don’t be fooled by Ducote’s record. That’s because she’s 5-1 in her last six bouts, five of them inside the distance. She’s among the best counter-punchers in the division and a solid grappler to boot. I fully expect a lengthy Octagon stint from “Gordinha.”
As for this match up, it boils down to whether Penne can consistently tie up without getting tattooed by Ducote’s straight right. Both women thrive in close-quarters engagements, and whoever can dictate where the fight takes place will win it. I’m leaning toward Ducote, though, who ostensibly has a larger edge on the feet than Penne does in the grappling.
Prediction: Ducote via unanimous decision
Three more UFC Long Island “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to preview and predict, including a pivotal Bantamweight bout and the return of Herbert Burns. Same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
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.