Brentwood’s Andrews Rodriguez said he wants to make mixed martial arts his job.
Saturday was a solid first day at the office.
Rodriguez defeated Mike DiOrio via unanimous decision during a welterweight preliminary at Bellator 208, utilizing a barrage of creative striking and staving off DiOrio’s grappling attempts to win in his professional debut at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
“I wanted to start fighting five years ago, been training for seven years and I decided I think I can be a UFC fighter,” Rodriguez said. “I got a couple kickboxing fights, went to amateur MMA and now I’m here. It’s surreal, it’s sick.”
Rodriguez had the advantage from the moment the fight started, showing his strength to create space as DiOrio tried to pressure him into the cage, then using a medley of strikes to do damage while avoiding every big shot.
“Dude was tough,” Rodriguez said. “I hit him with head kicks, elbows, body shots, I’m surprised he didn’t drop. I knew he was not going to land a clean shot on me, especially while we were standing in the middle.”
DiOrio spent much of the fight working to get Rodriguez to the mat, but didn’t have any success.
“I felt his wrestling, I felt his strength,” Rodriguez said. “Even if he tried with all his might, he would’ve been tired if he took me down and I would’ve been able to get up, so it was all good.”
Patchogue middleweight Jeremy Puglia had a big finish in an all-Long Island battle, defeating Levittown’s Eric Olsen by TKO at 3:16 of the first round.
After Olsen slammed Puglia during a scramble, Puglia got to his feet and began swinging wildly.
“Once I felt my right connect and him stumble back, I wasn’t going to stop, I felt it,” he said.
Puglia trapped Olsen’s left arm with his right hand and began to swing with his left, landing cleanly over and over before the referee stepped in to stop the action.
“I work that a lot, trapping that arm, he has nothing to base on to get up,” Puglia said. “I’ll stop a lot of people with that.”
With a baby due in December, Puglia said he’d like to get back in the cage before the year ends.
In the first fight of the night, Hicksville lightweight Nick Fiore avenged the only stoppage loss of his career, defeating Jerome Mickle after an early scare.
Fiore, who was knocked out by Mickle in 2016, was floored early in their rematch, but Fiore recovered quickly and out-grappled Mickle over three rounds to win a split decision, 30-27, 30-27, 28-29.
“That first round he landed a good right hand, but I hopped up and tried to keep the pressure,” Fiore said. “When you get hurt you try not to get hit again and just don’t show that you’re hurt.”
Terryville's Shaquan Moore lost a split decision to Brooklyn welterweight David Meshkhoradze, 30-27, 28-29, 30-27. Meshkhoradze controlled the striking in the first half of the first round, but he started to taunt Moore by dropping his hands and purposely sticking his face out, daring Moore to strike. Moore took that dare with three headshots and dropped him in the fourth minute.
Brooklyn strawweight Jennifer Chieng, who boxed for Micronesia in the 2016 Olympics, stopped Baldwin’s Jessica Ruiz via strikes 1:22 into the first round. Ruiz was helped out of the cage, then carried backstage because of an injured lower left leg.