The 38-year-old “King of Kung Fu” enters Saturday’s contest on a five-fight winning streak, most recently defeating fellow veteran Francisco Trinaldo last June. This is the first assignment against a ranked opponent of Salikhov’s career despite his impressive record, and represents the kind of victory he needs in order to keep climbing further up the divisional ladder.
Will Li get back in the win column and halt Salikhov’s ascent or will welterweight get a new ascending name to watch closely?
Matt Schnell vs. Sumudaerji
Matt Schnell and Sumudaerji go head-to-head in this battle of talented, ranked flyweights.
You have to feel for Schnell, who has encountered nothing but tough breaks and tougher fights since his January 2021 win over Tyson Nam. He signed to fight Alex Perez, but Perez withdrew, leading to a bout with Rogerio Bontorin at bantamweight where the Brazilian missed weight prior to winning the fight, only to have it declared a no contest after Bontorin tested positive for a banned substance.
He was rebooked with Perez, who missed weight for their UFC 269 pairing, only for Schnell to be scratched at the 11th hour due to a medical issue. They tried once more in February at UFC 271, with Perez again missing weight and Schnell refusing to accept the fight. Three months later, he stepped in with Brandon Royval and got caught in a guillotine choke in the midst of a frenetic back-and-forth round.
After logging a pair of wins in quick succession upon arriving in the flyweight division, Saturday marks Sumudaerji’s first appearance in 18 months. The 26-year-old from China enters on a three-fight winning streak, having gone back-to-back against Malcolm Gordon and Zarrukh Adashev in his first two appearances at 125 pounds, but now faces his first real step up in competition.
Business is picking up in the flyweight division and how this one plays out should have a real impact on how things line up going forward.
Shane Burgos vs. Charles Jourdain
The main event isn’t the lone electric featherweight encounter on Saturday’s card, as New York native Shane Burgos welcomes French-Canadian Charles Jourdain to Long Island.
Burgos, who was born in the Bronx and now resides in Monroe, enters off a unanimous decision win over Billy Quarantillo and carrying a reputation as one of the most consistently entertaining fighters in a division filled with consistently entertaining fighters. He’s garnered four Fight of the Night awards in his UFC career, and while he’ll likely be gunning for a Performance of the Night bonus here, the 31-year-old just has a way of falling into back-and-forth battles every time he steps into the Octagon.