Bronx-native Shane Burgos will ‘represent New York’ at UFC Long Island
Even Shane Burgos was surprised to find himself as the lone “New York guy” on the main card for the UFC’s first Long Island event in five years.
“It’s a little weird. I feel like maybe they didn’t know they were going to be in Long Island because I feel like there’s a s–t ton of fighters from Long Island,” Burgos said Wednesday during the UFC Long Island media day in Uniondale. “We’ve got LAW [Longo and Weidman] MMA right down there. I’ve got a bunch of teammates that live over here. I’m surprised I’m the only one.
“But I’ll take that on my back and I’ll represent New York.”
Calling the Empire State “my house,” Burgos (14-3, 10 finishes) has repped all across the map, be it in the city, upstate or in Nassau County, where he will compete for the second time Saturday (2 p.m., ABC), facing up-and-coming featherweight Charles Jourdain. Burgos will be competing at UBS Arena in Elmont this time, after having won five years ago at Nassau Coliseum.
And all Burgos does in New York is win. He’s 6-0 in the UFC when he has the home-state edge, with additional wins at Madison Square Garden (three times), Albany and Buffalo. Saturday marks the 15th time the MMA leader has come around to the state, and Burgos, a Bronx native and upstate Monroe resident, is the UFC’s go-to New Yorker.
Fighting so close to home once again means more than just a spotlight on Burgos. Family and friends get to make the trek, too. He ballparked that he will have at least 100 supporters, with some relatives who live on Long Island and several teammates from Queens.
And he relishes the chance to fight close to home, even if that means dealing with all the annoyances that come with driving in and around the city.
“It took me a while because of the freaking Long Island traffic, but other than that, I can go back home if I forgot something. It’s f–king awesome. I just packed my car up with all my s–t and don’t worry if it’s gonna be too much.”
Fans know to count on a Burgos fight being action-packed. His three-round battle with Josh Emmett, a narrow decision loss, was one of the most exciting fights of 2020.
Expectations are higher than usual against Jourdain (13-4, 12 finishes), a Canadian who appears to match up well to create a Fight of the Night-caliber clash. The first thought the 31-year-old Burgos said he had when the matchup came his way was “the fire emoji.”
Jourdain, 26, said Wednesday that he is wary of Burgos’ notorious toughness, highlighting “his willingness to keep going and keep getting damaged and not caring.”
“He wants to break you mentally,” Jourdan said of Burgos, who is coming off a decision victory over upstate-native Billy Quarantillo at the Garden in November. “Doesn’t want to break you technically, just wants to be in your face and make you feel like you don’t want to be there.”
Just around the time Burgos learned of the matchup, he was taking part in an unlikely training alliance with Emmett, just under two years after their brutal battle. The opportunity came up when Emmett’s boxing coach reached out, hoping to find sparring partners who were similar to Calvin Kattar, against whom Emmett won a hotly-debated decision last month.
Burgos wasn’t sure how to feel about the opportunity at first, but resolved to make the trip to California with younger brother Ryan, who was prepping for his own successful pro MMA debut.
“At first, I was like (sigh), former opponent, and he beat me and I lost,” Burgos recalled. “Sat back and thought about it, and I was like, ‘You know what? Rematches are so f–king hard to get in this sport. And as much as I can give and help him, I feel like I can take and he can help me as well.’ ”
The New Yorker called it “an awesome experience” on the whole. The way their fight went down didn’t come up, he says, although they did discuss the blown-out knee Emmett suffered early in the fight. They kept the trip light and didn’t experience any “awkwardness.”
It was about a day after arriving there that he heard of his name being linked to Jourdain’s, with early word placing the bout in Paris — all news to Burgos. He made the best of it, holding a week of his training camp in California before picking things up back home with his Tiger Schulmann’s Mixed Martial Arts team.
“I was like, let me just focus on the training right now,” said Burgos, compartmentalizing the situation. “So it worked out, though, because I got an idea of that I’m gonna fight [Jourdain].”