The UFC returned to Long Island, New York with a dynamite card on ABC. In the main event, Yair Rodriguez emerged victorious after Brian Ortega suffered an injury in the first round.
The Featherweight division is stacked right now, with Alexander Volkanovski recently defending his title opposite Max Holloway. The division is fairly ripe for matchmaking, with only #8 Giga Chikadze booked to fight #12 Sodiq Yusuff.
This was a tough result for everyone involved, especially since Yair Rodriguez was guaranteed a title shot from Dana White with a victory over Ortega. The injury TKO left the audience dissatisfied, and I would be surprised to see Yair awarded a title fight with this win. In the cage directly after the fight, both competitors were eager to have the matchup rebooked. That seems to be the fight to make once Ortega heals up, with both fighters at the top of the heat at 145.
The only party to benefit from the lackluster result in the main event was Josh Emmett. He scored an impressive decision victory over Calvin Kattar in a back-and-forth war, putting together a five-fight win streak. Volkanovski has a tight hold over the division and expressed interest in moving up to challenge for double champ status. However, the UFC just announced that Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev will fight for the title at UFC 281. Unless he wants to sit on the sidelines, Volkanovski will book another defense and Emmett is the most deserving challenger.
Max Holloway is undeniably on the Mount Rushmore of the Featherweight division, but was convincingly defeated by Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 276. Seated as the #1 contender, he will need to build himself back up with a few wins. Arnold Allen has the longest win streak in the division with nine straight victories in the UFC. Last seen securing a knockout over Dan Hooker, Allen is deserving of a title eliminator, and no one serves better than the former champ.
Calvin Kattar and the Korean Zombie are currently seated at the edge of the top five with name value. With Kattar coming off a controversial decision loss to Josh Emmett, he is looking to rebound and cement his status in the division. At the tail end of his career, Chan Sung Jung expressed interest in a retirement fight in Seoul. Kattar is the perfect name to headline a Fight Night card opposite TKZ, with top five status on the line.
Shane Burgos picked up a win on Long Island, winning a majority decision over Charles Jourdain. Ranked at #14, Burgos is now on a two-fight win streak and is always down for a slugfest. Dan Ige serves as a step up in the rankings at #11 and stiff stylistic test. He is coming off a three-fight skid and desperately needs a win to stay in the rankings. Both fighters are game and durable, lining up for a firefight on the feet.