The Real Winners and Losers From UFC on ABC 3
If you're going to sell something as "Strong Island," it better be substantial.
So in its maiden voyage at UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y., the UFC put together a roster of 14 ranked fighters for nine bouts of a 12-bout show.
The "Fight Night" production got started before noon Saturday and was co-broadcast by ESPN and ABC as the promotion continued with its recent network television inroads.
The world's second- and third-ranked featherweights, Brian Ortega and Yair Rodriguez, competed in the main event after bouts in which they lost decisions to the division's champion (Alexander Volkanovski) and No. 1 contender (Max Holloway).
The familiar crew of Jon Anik, Daniel Cormier and Paul Felder wore ABC's signature gold blazers while handling duties at the announcers table, Megan Olivi worked the room for features and breaking news items, and Din Thomas chipped in with technical analysis.
B/R's combat sports team was in place as well to digest the daytime drama and put together a list of its winners and losers. Scroll through to see what we came up with and feel free to drop a thought or two of your own in the comments section.
Loser: Clarity at 145 Pounds
It wasn't the way Rodriguez intended to state his case.
The third-ranked fighter at 145 pounds had won eight of 11 bouts in the UFC and had gone a competitive 25 minutes with Holloway in his last appearance. Clearly defeating the No. 2 fighter in the weight class would have elevated him into a title fight opportunity.
He got the victory but not the clarity.
The Mexico-based veteran had his hand raised as a TKO winner at 4:11 of the first round. Ortega was unable to continue after suffering an apparent right shoulder injury during a non-submission tie-up on the mat.
"I think it was a very tight fight, and I already told him we can run it back any time," Rodriguez said. "I prefer to win. But it's part of the game."
The two men, who had spent time as training partners and actually shook hands and embraced before the fight, were competitive through the initial four minutes as Rodriguez scored with sharp strikes and Ortega succeeded in getting the fight close along the fence.
The former title challenger scored a takedown on a double-leg try and was engaged with Rodriguez during the subsequent scramble when he stood and pulled his right arm out of his foe's grasp. He then immediately went to the ground in pain.
Referee Keith Peterson waved things off, and Ortega said the injury might be severe enough to require a third surgery on a shoulder in which he tore the labrum in 2016 and missed 12 months.
"I was not in submission danger. I felt good," he said. "And then I was like, 'Oh si-t, what the hell was that?' That's obviously not the way I want it to go. I want both of us to leave it all in here. And I know we would have."
Winner: Relying on Resolve
A spent Felder was precise in his analysis.
"That," the ex-lightweight contender said of the flyweight scrap between Matt Schnell and Sumudaerji, "was one of the craziest fights I've ever seen in my life."
The rival ranked contenders at 125 pounds went back and forth in a competitive first round, and they ramped it up in a breathtaking middle session that ended with both battered and bloody but only one, Sumudaerji, unconscious after a dramatic triangle choke finish.
The China native was ranked 12th in the division and seemed on the verge of advancing his cause several times as he strafed Schnell with hard elbows and precise left hands that left the Louisiana resident stumbling and wobbling around the cage.
He did not surrender, however, and landed a straight right counter that drove the exhausted Sumudaerji backward to the fence.
Schnell pounced, landing several strikes and getting his man to the floor, where he landed a series of particularly brutal elbows that left his rival with a ghastly cut. Sumudaerji nonetheless spun out and got top position, but Schnell continued the barrage and secured the choke that ended things at 4:24.
Referee Jacob Montalvo intervened as Sumudaerji fell motionless to the blood-soaked mat and Schnell pulled away to regain his breath and his senses.
"I think he got tired from beating on me, and I was able to capitalize," he said. "I don't even remember any of those [strikes I was hit with]. I'm one of those guys. I've always been one of those guys. I'm a bad man."
Winner: New York State of Mind
He won. But he wasn't happy.
Still—despite Shane Burgos' apparent lack of satisfaction with his main-card defeat of Charles Jourdain—don't expect him to renounce the majority decision verdict.
A native New Yorker, Burgos had partisan support from the home-state crowd and returned the energy in kind—particularly in the frenetic first two rounds that secured his narrow victory.
Two judges had Burgos ahead 29-28, while the third scored it even at 28-28, awarding Burgos a two-point margin in the second while giving Jourdain Rounds 1 and 3.
B/R also saw it 29-28 with Burgos taking the initial 10 minutes, including a second round in which he got his Canadian foe to the ground early and punished him throughout while cinching up a body triangle and consistently looking for submissions on Jourdain's neck.
The all-out search for a finish compromised his gas tank, though, allowing Jourdain to outwork him in the final round while running up an 84-26 edge in significant strikes and rallying to the point where Cormier thought he'd earned the victory.
"Yeah, for sure I deserved it," he said. "I thought I had the first two rounds, but that body triangle killed my legs. And he's a tough guy. We knew that coming in. He's tough on the feet, but I knew I could get him to the ground.
"I'm not happy with the performance. Blech."
Loser: Flyweight Reinvention
Miesha Tate is UFC royalty.
She was among the first wave of high-profile women to compete and succeed in the promotion, winning a title at bantamweight with a defeat of Holly Holm and falling short in championship-level fights with Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes.
But it hasn't gone so well recently.
The soon-to-be 36-year-old had won just once in four fights since her belt-wearing days, including a unanimous five-round decision loss to Ketlen Vieira in a Fight Night main event in November in Las Vegas.
A drop from bantamweight to flyweight was suggested as a remedy for Tate, but the 125-pound version fared no better in her divisional debut against third-ranked contender and recent title challenger Lauren Murphy, emerging swollen and bloody after 15 minutes while dropping a hard-to-debate unanimous decision to open Saturday's main card.
Two judges gave Murphy all three rounds, and the third saw it 2-1 in her favor.
The B/R card matched the majority for the 38-year-old winner, who landed 17 more significant strikes and scored the fight's lone two takedowns in six attempts. Tate was 0-for-7.
"I've dreamt about moments like this my whole career," said Murphy, who was stopped in Round 4 by flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko in September.
"When I'm healthy and I'm focused, I'm a force to be reckoned with, and it's gonna take more than one little ass whipping to keep me from the championship."
Winner: Happy Returns
Suggesting Dustin Jacoby has taken a long road to UFC success is understating it.
Now 34, the Colorado native debuted with the promotion 11 years ago but was quickly released after consecutive losses at UFC 137 and a UFC on Fox show.
He retreated to the MMA shadows and competed with multiple promotions before reemerging on the scene with a spot on Dana White's Contender Series in 2020.
A win yielded another contract, and success has been much more reliable since. Jacoby had five wins and a draw in six fights before an abrupt one-shot KO defeat of streaking prospect Da-un Jung in a scheduled three-round light heavyweight bout on the prelim show.
The thudding right hand certified Jacoby's standing as the 15th-ranked fighter at 205 pounds and continued his late-stage rededication to reach the top level in the Octagon.
Jung was flat on his back before getting to his feet and stumbling awkwardly toward the fence to draw a wave-off from referee Keith MacDonald.
"We knew we were going to get in each other's ass, and I got there first," Jacoby said. "I thought he was done and I started walking to my coach, but he started pointing at him and I thought, 'Oh sh-t, I've got to keep fighting.' I'm thankful I got that stoppage.
"I knew I had to defend my spot. I had to make a statement. I'm not getting any younger. This is my second run. This is it. This is what I'm doing everything for."
Winner: Defending the Ranks
Li Jingliang, it seems, has righted the ship.
The 34-year-old welterweight had dropped two of his previous three bouts, including a first-round finish by streaking prospect Khamzat Chimaev nine months ago, to fall all the way to No. 14 in the 170-pound rankings.
And in unranked kung fu specialist Muslim Salikhov, he was facing another foe whose burgeoning momentum had provided five straight UFC wins since a losing debut.
But it wasn't enough to dissuade Jingliang, who was aggressive and active after a close first round. He dumped Salikhov with a hard right hand and followed with enough strikes to draw a stoppage at 4:38 of the second.
Also winning from the No. 14 slot on the main card was Burgos, who handled the unranked Jourdain to run his pro record to 15-3 and his UFC mark to 8-3.
Two ranked fighters on the prelim card split bouts against unranked foes, with Jacoby defeating Jung by KO at light heavyweight and 14th-ranked strawweight Jessica Penne dropping a unanimous decision to Emily Ducote in the show's first bout.
Also in the prelim portion, No. 13 bantamweight Ricky Simon got a finish over previously unbeaten No. 14 Jack Shore with an arm triangle at 3:28 of the second round.
Overall, ranked fighters were 3-1 against unranked foes, while Simon, Murphy, Schnell, Rodriguez and No. 11 strawweight Amanda Lemos (over No. 10 Michelle Waterson-Gomez) were also winners in matchups of ranked fighters.
Full Card Results
Yair Rodriguez def. Brian Ortega by TKO (injury), 4:11, Round 1
Amanda Lemos def. Michelle Waterson-Gomez by submission (guillotine choke), 1:48, Round 2
Li Jingliang def. Muslim Salikhov by TKO (punches), 4:38, Round 2
Matt Schnell def. Sumudaerji by submission (triangle choke), 4:24, Round 2
Shane Burgos def. Charles Jourdain by majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)
Lauren Murphy def. Miesha Tate by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Punahele Soriano def. Dalcha Lungiambula by KO (punch), 0:28, Round 2
Ricky Simon def. Jack Shore by submission (arm triangle), 3:28, Round 2
Bill Algeo def. Herbert Burns by TKO (retirement), 1:50, Round 2
Dustin Jacoby def. Da-un Jung by KO (punch), 3:13, Round 1
Dustin Stoltzfus def. Dwight Grant by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Emily Ducote def. Jessica Penne by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)