A pair of top-five featherweights are set to do each other harm on Saturday night when Brian Ortega squares off with Yair Rodriguez in the main event of UFC Long Island. Read on for our Ortega-Rodriguez picks and predictions.
There will be blood.
One of the finest all-action fighters on the UFC roster, Rodriguez's last trip to the Octagon came at UFC Fight Night 197 back in November where he lost a clear-cut decision to former 145-pound kingpin Max Holloway. Rodriguez started strong, but eventually fell victim to Holloway's dizzying pace and voluminous striking.
Ortega, too, has slung leather with the division's best, dropping a decision to current featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 266. For fleeting moments it seemed as though Ortega would escape the eight-sided cage with the title wrapped around his waist when he caught the champ in what looked like a very deep guillotine choke. Unfortunately for "T-City," Volkanovski doesn't really have a neck to choke and he escaped what looked like a fight-ending strangulation.
In a bout that will keep the winner in the championship conversation, here are my picks and predictions for UFC Long Island's featherweight showdown between Ortega and Rodriguez (odds via FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence is based on a one-to-five star scale).
Ortega vs. Rodriguez Fight Info
Date/Time: Saturday, July 16, 2 p.m. ET (main card)
TV: ABC, ESPN +
Location: UBS Arena, Elmont, NY
Ortega vs. Rodriguez Odds Analysis
The more seasoned fighter who went to a decision with the current champ, Ortega opened as a -150 favorite, and that line has moved slightly to -170. Blessed with explosive, fight-ending power, there's definitely some value in snatching up Rodriguez at +145.
There's also some value in betting that the fight won't go the distance (-150 via DraftKings). Ten of Ortega's 15 victories have been stoppages, while Rodriguez has finished seven of his 13.
Brian Ortega Betting Profile
A venomous grappler, "T-City" is adept at snatching fight-ending chokes and, although he's not a spectacular wrestler, he always seems to find a way to quicksand his opponents to the mat. Once on the floor, Ortega mercilessly hunts for guillotine and triangle chokes while his opponent desperately tries to avoid taking an unscheduled trip to the land of nod.
Ortega is 7-2-1 since making his UFC debut in 2014 and has only lost to the absolute elite. He counts Clay Guida, Cub Swanson, Chan Sung Jung, and former lightweight overlord Frankie Edgar among his high-profile conquests.
Yair Rodriguez Betting Profile
Oozing pure violence, Rodriguez relishes engaging in absolute wars where he's more than happy to uncork something ridiculous of the flying or spinning variety. Possessing the requisite power to render anyone in the 145-pound division unconscious, "El Pantera" loves punctuating slick combinations with ripping kicks.
With his only losses inside the Octagon coming against former champions, Rodriguez owns victories over Dan Hooker, Andre Fili, Sung Jung, and the completely shopworn husk of lightweight great B.J. Penn. Should Rodriguez completely lay waste to Ortega, he's likely next in line to vie for Volkanovski's crown.
Ortega vs. Rodriguez Picks
- Ortega to win (-170 via DraftKings) ????
- Ortega to win by submission (+230 via FanDuel) ???
Ortega vs. Rodriguez Predictions
Ortega to win (-165)
This won't be a walk in the park for Ortega, but I think he pulls it off. Sure, I'm a bit weary at how much more hittable he is than Rodriguez, especially since Rodriguez packs dynamite in his fists. Both men land more than four significant strikes per minute, but Ortega absorbs more than two significant strikes per minute than "El Pantera." That said, Ortega is a much better grappler and has 25 minutes in which to work to get this bout to the ground where he can start hunting for submissions.
After some truly hairy moments where Rodriguez lands something nasty, Ortega will eventually drag this bout to the floor.
Ortega to win by submission (+230)
I just can't shake the feeling that Rodriguez will get too cute trying to violently dust Ortega with something flashy, leaving himself open for the takedown. Ortega has generally fallen against more patient, poised fighters, and Rodriguez just doesn't fit that description.
Seven of Ortega's 15 career wins have come via submission, and Rodriguez will become victim number eight. Rodriguez will get taken down following an ill-advised spinning move, and from there, Ortega will snake in a fight-ending choke.
Where to Bet on Ortega-Rodriguez Picks
Here are our top-rated sportsbooks:
Ortega-Rodriguez picks made on 7/15/2022 at 9:22 a.m. ET.