Chief among them was Shane Burgos (13-1), who put forth a sensational showing on the ESPN 2 preliminary card, where the top-15 ranked featherweight competed against Makwan Amirkhani of Finland.
The Bronx-born Burgos trains out of Tiger Schulmann in Monroe, and stopped Amirkhani in the third round with a flurry of punches that began with a right hook to the body. The bout was stopped with less than 30 seconds remaining.
“The first time I competed in MSG it was quick, so I didn’t have a chance to embrace it,” Burgos told the media after the fight. “This time, I soaked it in.”
In the UFC, where Burgos is now 6-1, the 28-year-old rising contender has competed in New York State in five of his seven fights, going back to his debut for the company in December of 2016.
This was the third straight year Burgos did battle in the UFC’s annual MSG event. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak.
“I have so many friends and family here and my team, I knew the crowd would be electrifying,” he said. “I was the biggest favorite on the card, so it puts more pressure on me because I’m supposed to win.”
Burgos also acknowledged that Saturday marked the final fight on his expiring UFC contract. He said he plans on remaining with the company and pursuing bigger fights in the future, with hopes of an eventual championship bout.
“That was the last fight on my contract, so hopefully I made a statement,” he said. “I want a big deal next.”
Elsewhere on the card, fellow Tiger Schulmann representative Lyman Good (21-5) – a native of Harlem, – TKO’d Chance Recountre just over two minutes into round three. Good improved to 3-2 in the UFC with the victory, his second straight in Madison Square Garden after knocking out Ben Saunders last November.
Good, 34, was coming off a loss to welterweight contender Demian Maia.
“In this sport, you are only as good as your last win,” Good said. “I do want to get a crack at a top-10 opponent eventually, but I know it all depends on my performance and I’m very pleased with mine tonight.”
Bayside native Julio Arce competed in the very first fight on the card, losing a split decision to Hakeem Dawodu.
The bout dropped Arce to 16-4 overall, and marked his second loss over his last three fights, both of which were at MSG. Arce – a featherweight – also lost via split decision last November to Sheymon Moraes.