A day in the life of Long Island: July 4, 1969

Newsday’s recent “Day in the Life” project brought readers an intimate look at the joyous, mournful and complex moments that make up a day on Long Island.

Whether chronicling bagel makers and fishermen at work in the early hours of the morning or sharing in late-night celebrations at senior prom, Newsday staff sought to capture the unique perspective of life on Long Island.

The project raised the question – what would a day in the life on Long Island have been like 10, 30, 50 years ago?

As it turns out, it doesn’t seem much different than it is now. On July 4, 1969, crowds flocked to local beaches, service problems on the Long Island Rail Road were the talk of commuters, and a horse partly owned by a famous singer made the news.

Here’s a day in the life on Long Island from July 4, 1969, as told through the day’s news.

A day in the sun

The forecast had promised perfect July Fourth weather, warm and sunny. As temperatures reached the upper 80s, thousands of people headed to the beach to swim, boat and soak up the sun.

At Tobay Beach in Massapequa, dozens of people docked their boats and set up chairs to sunbathe beneath waving American flags.

July Fourth, on duty



In Zachs Bay, near Jones Beach, Nassau County police were stationed on boats, ready to respond if tragedy happened. The holiday meant “some of their busiest hours,” they told a Newsday photographer.

Ptl. Donald Swenson and Ptl. Henry Penna manned a 33-foot police boat, searching for boaters in distress. The pair mostly responded to smaller boats, including one driven by two Massapequa 15-year-olds, Gary Brook and Brad Keller.

The teenagers’ engine had died and they were waving a white cloth. The officers towed them back to the marina.

The rising toll of war



July 4, 1969, marked nearly a week since the family of Spec. 4 Gerald C. Daley received word from the army that Daley, 21, of Uniondale, had been wounded in battle west of Danang, Vietnam.

Daley was shot in the back, shoulder and spine, and died the next day, making him the 400th Long Island soldier to die in Vietnam.

“He was an honest, decent kid with a lot of friends,” his mother Grace Boyer said. “He felt he was needed over there. My son was proud and said that was what he wanted to do. It was not what his mother wanted him to do . . .”

Boyer said Daley had dropped out of Uniondale High School to enlist in the Army. He spent 11 months in Germany and four in Vietnam before deciding to continue as a soldier there.

Long Island Rail Road woes

July 4 wasn’t a positive day for the Long Island Rail Road. Newsday reported that nearly half of 94 new train cars – with a price tag of $216,000 each – had electrical issues that required them to be pulled from the tracks.

About 25 experts were called in to diagnose the specific issue with the Budd manufactured cars. Suspected issues ranged from pinched wires to “grounded train lines,” which could cause electricity, brakes and air conditioning to fail.

The MTA had hoped to replace all cars with the Budd model, having placed a $134 million order for 620 of them.

After a hospital visit, a game of slowpitch

Softball teams from Hicksville and Wantagh were declared finalists in the winner’s bracket for the Long Island Invitational Slowpitch Softball Tournament, the culmination of 15.5 hours of play on July 4.

The Astros had not expected to fare well in the tournament. One important factor in their victory was pitcher Ron Mekalavage, a high school football coach who played in the July 4 evening game after receiving treatment in the hospital for a kidney condition just hours before. The Astros went on to beat the Climactic Air Rams 7-5 to secure a spot in the final round.

The Hicksville Astros and Wantagh Hotel were scheduled to play late the next day.

A horse owned by Sinatra has its day

Frank Sinatra and his attorney Martin Rudin had more to celebrate than just Independence Day. Sinatra and Rudin each owned a one-third stake in a 6-year-old horse named Mr. Right, who ran to victory in a July 4 race at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park.



Mr. Right, also partly owned by a businessman named Daniel Schwartz, won his owners $69,550. Jockey Angel Cordero said it was the first time he’d ever ridden the horse.

“He was galloping easy, you know,” Cordero said. “I only thought I was in trouble one time.”

In tense times, Americans look to the sky

As President Richard Nixon prepared to head to Romania to help foster goodwill between the two countries, he faced criticism domestically for his handling of school desegregation in the south.

Nixon had relaxed a previously hard deadline on desegregation, prompting the National Education Association and civil rights groups to denounce the decision.

The country was also gearing up for the launch of the Apollo 11 space mission, scheduled to take off from what is now known as Cape Canaveral on July 16. The mission famously landed astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on the moon, the first men to set foot there.

Poppies, poppies

Newsday’s gardening section recommended planting oriental poppies, a “robust and dazzling” flower sure to “brighten a garden” with low maintenance. However, for gardeners seeking something blue – “one of the most wanted colors in gardens” – editor Bea Jones suggested planting veronicas.

Bringing the lab outside

Budding scientists in the State University at Stony Brook’s natural sciences summer program examined some crustaceans.

Helicopter parents?

A generational divide emerged with a question in Newsday’s opinion section: Are kids these days too coddled?

“How can (parents) expect their children to know the value of a dollar when allowances are handed out regularly and nothing is expected in return?” an “old timer” wrote to columnist Ann Landers. “When I see my grandsons growing up to be loafers it makes me sick.”

In the syndicated column, Landers wrote back: “There’s more to this problem than meets the eye.” Child labor laws are complicated and the world isn’t the same as it was decades before. “So don’t put the blame on the parents, grandpa.”

See more from Newsday’s recent Day in the Life of Long Island project.

What’s going on with the LIRR right now? Live updates


After months of planning and dread, the “summer of hell” has arrived on Long Island.

Check back here for live updates from Newsday’s reporters, and tune in to News 12 Long Island as they broadcast from the field.

Want to join the chatter? Use the hashtag #SummerofHell on Instagram or Twitter.


12:30 p.m.  



11 a.m.  


Trains came and went at Jamaica station mostly unremarkably during Monday’s morning rush hour, passengers and LIRR personnel said.

Jamaica station, a potential choke point junction where hundreds of trains pass through each day, was flooded with LIRR customer service personnel in blaze-orange safety vests.

They carried paper printouts of scheduling changes, and helped direct passengers through sometimes confusing train transfers. One of them, who had been on duty since 5 a.m., said the morning commute at Jamaica seemingly had gone off without a hitch.

The LIRR employee, who would only identify herself as a manager in a project planning office, said many of her colleagues in the office had been reassigned to help guide commuters on Jamaica station’s platforms, and that she expected to continue to do so into September.

“It’s been all hands on deck,” she said. “But I don’t know how our regular work is going to get done.”


10:30 a.m.  

9:30 a.m.  

"When I pulled up to the #Freeport train station this morning and noticed how empty it was, I was wondered why. Is it because it's the first day of the #summerofhell? Did most people decide to drive? I don't know but there's nothing worse than driving to #Manhattan during rush hour. The last couple of month's have been a total disaster and I anticipate what lies ahead will be just as challenging. Increases in fares, increases in headaches. They reduced some fares but not for the July monthlies. This situation makes it harder to plan because most of the time I have no idea when I will get to work or when I will get back home." David Silverstein, 47, Merrick resident, owner of Human Resources firm H.R. Search Partners, located in Times Square, which he said is a "10-minute walk from #PennStation. Silverstein was taking the 9:06 a.m. train from Freeport to Penn. #summerofhell #lirr #mta #newsdayreporter #newsday

A post shared by Daysi Calavia-Robertson (@presspassdaysi) on



9:03 a.m.   West End Concourse


9:02 a.m.   Atlantic Terminal


8:56 a.m.   Port Washington


8:39 a.m.   Penn Station


8:32 a.m.   Hunterspoint Avenue


8:30 a.m.  


https://www.instagram.com/p/BWXcRFvDO7u/

"Summer of Hell" starts today! LIRR super packed and late. #lirr #summerofhell #rushhour #longislandrailroad #firstpost

A post shared by Dr. Navin Arora (@dr_arora_derm) on



8:17 a.m.   Penn Station


8:13 a.m.   Hunterspoint Avenue


8:03 a.m.   Babylon


8 a.m.  


https://www.instagram.com/p/BWXXr3Vhh0K/



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Gregor Gillespie

Massapequa | 2 UFC fights

Keith Trimble watched Gregor Gillespie boxing in the gym one recent afternoon. Gillespie moved well and threw crisp punches as he shadow boxed and hit the heavy bag.

Then, Trimble recalled a different sight in a different time.

“The worst,” Trimble said.

He remembered the first time he held pads for Gillespie, a former NCAA Division I wrestling champion.

“He almost broke my elbows,” the longtime trainer at Bellmore Kickboxing said.

That was a few years ago on the calendar and a few light years earlier in Gillespie’s development from wrestler to a more complete striker for mixed martial arts.

Gillespie, who lives in Massapequa, now moves better than ever with his hands. The transformation isn’t complete — it seldom is in mixed martial arts — but the rounding out of Gillespie’s skill set grows smoother by the day.

That was evident in his most recent fight last April at UFC 210 in Buffalo when he knocked out Andrew Holbrook.

Gillespie (9-0, 2-0 UFC) clipped Holbrook with a perfectly timed stepback left hook. He followed it up with several strikes to the grounded Holbrook to win the fight in 21 seconds.

It was the first knockout in the UFC for Gillespie, who had three wins by technical knockout while fighting his way to the lightweight title in Ring of Combat.

Add in three submission wins and that’s seven finishes for a growing MMA fighter with an impressive wrestling pedigree. He won two New York state titles while at Webster Schroeder High School and was a four-time All-American wrestler for Edinboro in Pennsylvania.

“If it’s stand-up, if it’s gritty takedowns, if it’s ground and pound, if it’s submissions, you’re going to see a lot of persistence,” Gillespie said. “I’m resilient and I’m a workhorse.”

Gillespie is awaiting his next fight booking. He indicated that he’d like to get on the UFC 25 card scheduled for Sept. 7 in Edmonton.

GREGOR GILLESPIE’S UFC FIGHT HISTORY
Date Event Opponent Result
Sept. 4, 2016 UFC Brasilia Glaico Franco Won by unanimous decision
April 8, 2017 UFC 210 Andrew Holbrook Won by KO, Round 1, 0:24

LONG ISLAND IN THE UFC

dennis bermudez
gregor gillespie
al iaquinta
brian kelleher
ryan laflare
aljamain sterling
chris wade
chris weidman
gian villante

Where are they now?

luke cummo
eddie gordon
jay hieron
alptekin ozkilic
pete sell
matt serra

Gian Villante

Levittown | 10 UFC fights

Gian Villante’s Long Island credentials are as strong as he is.

He won Newsday’s Thorp Award as the top football player in Nassau County when he was a two-way star for MacArthur High School in 2002. He won two county wrestling titles and is one of five active UFC fighters to have won a New York State high school championship.

Villante then went to Hofstra University where he became a three-time All-American football player.

He prefers the sleeves on his shirts go no further than where his shoulders stop and his arms start. And, there’s a burger named after him at Sal’s Place in North Massapequa.

So, of course he’s all kinds of fired up to finally fight at home when he faces Patrick Cummins on the UFC Long Island card at Nassau Coliseum on July 22, right? Well, yeah, but he brings the perspective of a 22-fight veteran.

“Business as usual, go in there, get a win,” said Villante, who grew up in Levittown and trains at Bellmore Kickboxing Academy. “The only thing different is I’ll have a lot more people to celebrate with. I don’t have to rush home to celebrate with all my friends and family. I can do that 10 minutes away now, I’m good.”

There are perks to fighting across the street from where he starred in college (and across a few streets from where he often works with training partner Chris Weidman). No airplanes, no passports, no extra travel expenses for his cornermen, plenty of familiar voices in the crowd supporting him.
Again, though, Villante compartmentalized the significance of being one of the six Long Island-based fighters on the first UFC Long Island fight card.

It’s a familiar refrain for the 31-year-old Villante.

“My last fight was against [Mauricio] ‘Shogun’ Rua, a world champion. The fight before that was my first time ever fighting in New York, so every fight, there’s some sort of ‘Why this is the biggest fight of your life?” Villante said. “And I talk about it all the time. No matter what, your next fight after this, it’s going to be the biggest fight. It’s going to be way bigger than when I fought at Nassau Coliseum. The next fight is always the biggest fight of your career, so I just try to think of it like that. It’s nothing new, just another huge fight. They’re all huge at this point. You never want to lose any fight you’re in.”

Villante (15-7, 5-5 UFC) is ranked 13th in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, a class that, even with the return of former champion Jon Jones, isn’t the jewel of the promotion that it once was. If Villante can string together a few wins in a row, he could quickly move up the ladder. A win over No. 11 Cummins would be a good rebound after losing to No. 5 Rua last March.

Villante also appreciates the lifestyle of being a professional athlete, a job he always wanted growing up. He found his niche with mixed martial arts.

“The good thing about MMA, there’s no coach out there telling you, ‘Hey you gotta do this better, that better,’ or ‘It’s your fault this happened,’” Villante said. “In MMA, it’s your fault anything happens. Wins and losses, that’s it, it’s just on you, there’s nobody else to blame.”

There’s freedom in such a lifestyle, even with the grueling regimen of training camp for a physical and full-body sport. Villante was able to be a guest bartender on Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” with Andy Cohen, work with Dana White and Matt Serra on an upcoming episode of “Dana White Lookin’ for a Fight” and cook with Lidia Bastianich.

“I’m my own boss,” Villante said. “All my other friends with these jobs waking up early and this and that. I wake up when I want, I do what I want, I have fun and then all I gotta do is go in there, get punched a couple times and punch the other guy even harder. It’s fun to me. It’s not a real job. One day I’ll have to get a real job, this ain’t it. I fight because I love it and it’s fun. One day I know I’ll have to grow up, but hopefully, that ain’t any time soon.”

GIAN VILLANTE’S UFC FIGHT HISTORY
Date Event Opponent Result
April 27, 2013 UFC 159 Ovince Saint Preux Lost by majority decision (doctor’s stoppage), Round 3, 0:33
Nov. 16, 2013 UFC 167 Cody Donovan Won by KO, Round 2, 1:22
March 23, 2014 UFC Natal Fabio Maldonado Lost by unanimous decision
June 28, 2014 UFC Auckland Sean O’Connell Won by split decision
April 18, 2015 UFC on Fox 15 Corey Anderson Won by KO, Round 3, 4:18
July 25, 2015 UFC Chicago Tom Lawlor Lost by KO, Round 2, 0:28
Nov. 14, 2015 UFC 193 Anthony Perosh Won by KO, Round 1, 2:03
March 5, 2016 UFC 196 Ilir Latifi Lost by unanimous decision
Dec. 9, 2016 UFC Albany Saparbek Safarov Won by TKO, Round 2, 2:07
March 11, 2017 UFC Fortaleza Mauricio Rua Lost by KO, Round 3, 0:59
July 22, 2017 UFC Long Island Patrick Cummins

LONG ISLAND IN THE UFC

dennis bermudez
gregor gillespie
al iaquinta
brian kelleher
ryan laflare
aljamain sterling
chris wade
chris weidman
gian villante

Where are they now?

luke cummo
eddie gordon
jay hieron
alptekin ozkilic
pete sell
matt serra

Chris Wade

Islip | 6 UFC fights

Chris Wade almost got onto the UFC’s Brooklyn card last February as a late addition. Didn’t happen. He almost landed a late spot on the UFC’s Buffalo card in April. Didn’t happen.

“I’ve been healthy, I’ve been raising my hand, ‘pick me! pick me!” the Islip-raised Wade said earlier this month.

This, of course, was after he already secured a spot on another New York-based UFC fight card, one slightly closer to home.

Wade will battle Frankie Perez in the first fight of the night at UFC Long Island at Nassau Coliseum on July 22. Just after 4 p.m. that Saturday, he’ll be the first fighter to enter the UFC’s octagon in Long Island, what with this being the promotion’s first event here. He’s also one of six Long Island-based fighters scheduled to compete inside the renovated venue.

“Fighting at Nassau Coliseum means the world to me,” said Wade, a former state wrestling champion at Islip High School. “This is like our little mecca of sports and entertainment, so to fight there is a real validation that you’ve made it in whatever path you’ve chosen.”

Ten months will have passed since Wade last fought in September when he lost a unanimous decision to Islam Makhachev. It was his second straight defeat, both of which came against Russian-based grapplers.

“I was starving for a fight,” Wade, 29, said.

Both competitively and financially.

Healthy the entire time, the competitive spirit inside Wade needed to be set free upon someone besides training partners. Plus, he’s a homeowner on Long Island and has a daughter to support.

Like most up-and-coming MMA fighters, Wade teaches classes at his gym (Long Island MMA in Farmingdale) and gives private lessons. He also helped open a second Long Island MMA gym in Islip. Wade also has a stake in Island Strong, an apparel business focused on taking pride in Long Island and all it has to offer.

“Not having fought in New York yet, being that outside guy looking in, I’ve been looking to jump in any way I could,” Wade said. “So to hear Long Island, my ears perked up, I’m like I gotta have this.”

Wade (11-3, 4-2 UFC) has four career wins by submission and seven by decision. Two of his four UFC wins came by submission. He and the New Jersey-based Perez (10-3, 1-2) fought once before in Ring of Combat, with Wade winning by split decision to defend his RoC lightweight title. It was the first career loss for Perez.

He wants his Long Island debut to be something fans all over the world will remember. Not only to secure his immediate UFC fighting future, but to help stand out amid a crowd of lightweight fighters each trying to make a name for themselves with the work inside the octagon and their sound bites on a microphone.

“I definitely need to make a statement this bout, considering the way things have kind of been going,” Wade said. “I’ve watched it creep from a true sport, like, just get your hand raised, to this almost WWE-esque entertainment entity where they want to see promo videos, they wanna see the trash talk, they wanna see the whole nine to bring the fan in.”

CHRIS WADE’S UFC FIGHT HISTORY
Date Event Opponent Result
Aug. 30, 2014 UFC 177 Cain Carrizosa Won by submission, Round 1, 1:12
Jan. 18, 2015 UFC Boston Zhang Lipeng Won by unanimous decision
June 6, 2015 UFC New Orleans Christos Giagos Won by unanimous decision
Jan. 17, 2016 UFC Boston Mehdi Baghdad Won by submission, Round 1, 4:30
May 8, 2016 UFC Rotterdam Rustam Khabilov Lost by unanimous decision
Sept. 17, 2016 UFC Hidalgo Islam Makhachev Lost by unanimous decision
July 22, 2017 UFC Long Island Frankie Perez

LONG ISLAND IN THE UFC

dennis bermudez
gregor gillespie
al iaquinta
brian kelleher
ryan laflare
aljamain sterling
chris wade
chris weidman
gian villante

Where are they now?

luke cummo
eddie gordon
jay hieron
alptekin ozkilic
pete sell
matt serra

Brian Kelleher

Selden | 1 UFC fight

In Brian Kelleher, the MMA world found an excitable guy who in the hysteria of winning his UFC debut against a Brazilian fighter in Brazil, with the adrenaline flowing, worked the microphone like a promo-cutting veteran looking to sell his next fight.

The regular world knows a different Kelleher.

“I’m very low-key,” said Kelleher, 30, of Selden. “I like nature, I like going out to the beach, just hanging out and keeping it low key. I don’t really go out to the bars or anything like that. That’s not my style. I’m more of a homebody.”

With his euphoria on display during his post-fight interview, which aired live on FS1 last month during the UFC 212 prelims, both worlds saw the next step in Kelleher’s pursuit of his singular dream. He submitted Iuri Alcantara in the first round via guillotine choke.

Kelleher then called out UFC president Dana White and matchmaker Sean Shelby for a $50,000 performance bonus, asked to be fed more sharks and informed the Brazilian crowd that he just beat one of their hometown guys.

Rather gutsy approach for a guy with 108 seconds of time spent in the UFC’s octagon.

“I have one vision and that’s to become the world champion,” he said after a recent training session at Long Island MMA in Farmingdale. “All I do is think about my next training session. While I’m training my first session, I’m like, ‘What am I going to do the next session?’ That’s all I’m thinking about. I’m just dedicated, disciplined and ready to take this to the top.”

Kelleher takes his next step against Marlon Vera (9-3-1) at UFC Long Island at the renovated Nassau Coliseum on July 22.

Kelleher (17-7), who fights out of Maxum BJJ in Centereach, was born in Oceanside and grew up in Selden. He never wrestled in high school, something of a rarity of American mixed martial arts fighters – even more atypical for a fighter from Long Island. Team sports were big with Kelleher growing up.

“Once I got into fighting, the feeling of victory after all the hard training, it was unexplainable,” Kelleher said. “It was like no other sport I’ve ever been in. I think that kind of kept me going and now it’s my life.”

Kelleher hadn’t fought in more than a year before his June 4 UFC debut. He knew his sport’s top promotion eventually would contact him for a fight, a high-risk play that certainly brought its share of rewards in the past two months.

One fight into his first stint in the UFC and he gets booked on his hometown card, which just so happens to be the UFC’s first event on Long Island (and its fifth in New York since the state legalized MMA in March 2016).

“I’ve always been booed, I’ve always fought the hometown guy, I’ve been the away guy,” Kelleher said. “But finally we’re coming home to fight in front of my friends and family. It’s going to be a surreal feeling. I think it’s going to be even more special than my debut, just for that fact that everyone that’s been supporting me over the years is going to be there in attendance.”

BRIAN KELLEHER’S UFC FIGHT HISTORY
Date Event Opponent Result
June 3, 2017 UFC 212 Iuri Alcantara Won by submission, Round 1, 1:48
July 22, 2017 UFC Long Island Marlon Vera

LONG ISLAND IN THE UFC

dennis bermudez
gregor gillespie
al iaquinta
brian kelleher
ryan laflare
aljamain sterling
chris wade
chris weidman
gian villante

Where are they now?

luke cummo
eddie gordon
jay hieron
alptekin ozkilic
pete sell
matt serra

Dennis Bermudez

Lindenhurst | 13 UFC fights

To the passers-by, mixed martial arts may look like a throwback to a less civilized and less cultured society.

But, for those men and women willing to put their bodies in harm’s way, it is far more than just two people punching, kicking and contorting each other until one person is stopped from doing so.

“One of the appeals of fighting is not knowing what’s going to happen,” said Dennis Bermudez, the No. 10 ranked UFC featherweight fighter from Long Island MMA in Farmingdale. “You can only prepare and hope that you’ve done everything correctly and that you’ll execute everything correctly while you’re in there. But when everything goes your way and you dominate another man against his will, it’s a pretty good feeling.”

Bermudez knows that feeling 17 times over. He also has seen that same feeling expressed by six other fighters at his expense, including his last fight against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung.

Bermudez, who grew up in Saugerties, New York, and moved to Long Island in 2010, takes aim at the good feeling on July 22. He’ll fight Darren Elkins in the co-main event at UFC Long Island at Nassau Coliseum. It is the promotion’s first event on Long Island and the fifth in New York since the state legalized MMA in March 2016.

“Walking into the Coliseum is going to be like another day walking in the gym,” Bermudez, 30, said. “I’m going to wake up in my bed, I’m going to drive 25 minutes to Nassau Coliseum and I’m going to throw down.”

He is one of six Long Islanders on the card that night, a group including LIMMA teammates Ryan LaFlare and Chris Wade, plus Chris Weidman, Gian Villante and Brian Kelleher.

For Bermudez, MMA became something of an extension of athletic goals he didn’t accomplish in high school and college. He wanted to be a state champion in high school, he said, but he never qualified for the state tournament. In college at Bloomsburg (Pennsylvania), he wanted to make the NCAA Tournament and make a run for the title. That didn’t happen, though he was a freestyle wrestling All-American.

When he began MMA in 2009, Bermudez set his next goal: get into the UFC. After nine pro fights, with seven wins, Bermudez earned a spot on Season 14 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” He reached the final, losing to Diego Brandao in 2011.

“It’s kind of like I’m making some headway on some goals,” Bermudez said.

Indeed, along with the next one.

“My goal was to get into the top 10,” Bermudez said. “I’m in the top 10, so now we’re trying to climb up and be a world champion.”

A seven-fight win streak from May 2012 to November 2014 pushed Bermudez to as high as No. 7 in the rankings. Back-to-back losses to Ricardo Lamas and Jeremy Stephens moved Bermudez down a few spots. He won two of his last three fights, though, keeping him in the top 10.

“I’ve got a win over Max Holloway, who’s the current UFC champion of the world,” Bermudez said “and I want to climb back up there and meet up with him again.”

DENNIS BERMUDEZ’S UFC FIGHT HISTORY
Date Event Opponent Result
Dec. 3, 2011 Ultimate Fighter Finale 14 Diego Brandao Lost by submission, Round 1, 4:51
May 5, 2012 UFC on Fox 3 Pablo Garza Won by unanimous decision
Aug. 11, 2012 UFC 150 Tommy Hayden Won by submission, Round 1, 4:43
Feb. 23, 2013 UFC 157 Matt Grice Won by split decision
May 25, 2013 UFC 160 Max Holloway Won by split decision
Nov. 6, 2013 UFC Fight for the Troops Steven Siler Won by unanimous decision
March 15, 2014 UFC 171 Jimy Hettes Won by TKO, Round 3, 2:57
July 26, 2014 UFC San Jose Clay Guida Won by submission, Round 2, 2:57
Nov. 15, 2014 UFC 180 Ricardo Lamas Loss by submission, Round 1, 3:18
July 11, 2015 UFC 189 Jeremy Stephens Lost by KO, Round 3, 0:33
Feb. 21, 2016 UFC Pittsburgh Tatsuya Kawajiri Won by unanimous decision
Aug. 6, 2016 UFC Salt Lake City Rony Jason Won by unanimous decision
Feb. 4, 2017 UFC Houston Chan Sung Jung Lost by KO, Round 1, 2:30
July 22, 2017 UFC Long Island Darrin Elkins

LONG ISLAND IN THE UFC

dennis bermudez
gregor gillespie
al iaquinta
brian kelleher
ryan laflare
aljamain sterling
chris wade
chris weidman
gian villante

Where are they now?

luke cummo
eddie gordon
jay hieron
alptekin ozkilic
pete sell
matt serra

Al Iaquinta

Wantagh | 10 UFC fights

There are times when UFC lightweight fighter Al Iaquinta gets recognized by a potential home buyer. Not so much because they’ve seen him in the Home Smart Realty office or his face in an ad, but more so from the years spent knocking people out inside the UFC’s octagon.

“‘Hey, you’re that fighter guy,'” Iaquinta said in describing what clients say. “It’s funny when that happens. It’s a talking point. If anything, it helps.”

One night last March inside Longo and Weidman MMA in Garden City where he trains, the 30-year-old Iaquinta opened the calculator app on his phone. Time for some quick math. Give or take a couple of bucks, if Iaquinta sells four “middle class” homes on Long Island, he would earn approximately the same as the $26,000 show money the UFC was paying him to fight Diego Sanchez in April at UFC Nashville. Iaquinta won that fight by knockout in 98 seconds, so he also earned another $26,000 in win money. That’s eight houses to be sold and zero punches to the head or kicks to the body to be received.

Iaquinta wasn’t awarded one of the four performance bonuses by the UFC that night, which would have sent Iaquinta back to Long Island with another $50,000. That didn’t sit well with the man they call “Ragin’ Al.” He put his feelings into words – a few of them choice, too – on social media that night. Naturally, they became headlines that night and the next day.

Iaquinta followed it up with an explosive interview that Monday on MMAFighting.com’s “The MMA Hour.”

“The whole bonus thing is just ridiculous,” Iaquinta said in that interview about how the UFC rewards top performers on fight night. “The fact that they’re giving $50,000 bonuses, it’s like their little way to control everybody.

“I don’t understand how everyone just thinks that’s normal, $50,000 bonus. A bonus is like a little something extra. Fifty-thousand dollars is like three times some of these guys’ pay. That’s not a bonus. That’s like life-changing stuff. And oh, it looks great. But guess what? That’s their little way to control you.”

Much else of what he had to say isn’t printable here. But it had people talking … and laughing … and writing.

It also helped turn “Ragin’ Al” into something of an instant favorite among MMA fans. There’s something about hearing a person hammer their bosses about money and other perceived injustices that resonates with the everyman. The little guy standing up to the big bad wolf without fear. MMA fans, as highly critical a group as any in sports, always appreciate a good laugh. Iaquinta provided that.

He also has provided some sparks in the octagon. Iaquinta won his last five fights dating to 2014, including knockouts of Sanchez, Joe Lauzon, Ross Pearson and Rodrigo Damm. He won a split decision over Jorge Masvidal.

A knee injury, combined with his contract dispute, kept Iaquinta out of the octagon for two years before the Sanchez fight.

Will he fight again? Maybe. Maybe not. It all depends on how he feels.

He said recently that he might try to get onto the next card at Madison Square Garden, believed to be this November although not officially announced by the UFC. Iaquinta was supposed to fight Thiago Alves on the first MSG card last November, but he decided not to sign the bout agreement because of monetary concerns.

Instead, Iaquinta went about his way in the real estate world.

“I’m grinding,” Iaquinta said, “and it’s gonna pay off.”

AL IAQUINTA’S UFC FIGHT HISTORY
Date Event Opponent Result
June 1, 2012 Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale Michael Chiesa Lost by submission, Round 1, 2:47
Aug. 31, 2013 UFC 164 Ryan Couture Won by unanimous decision
Oct. 26, 2013 UFC Manchester Piotr Hallman Won by unanimous decision
Feb. 1, 2014 UFC 169 Kevin Lee Won by unanimous decision
May 24, 2014 UFC 173 Mitch Clarke Lost by submission, Round 2, 0:57
Sept. 5, 2014 UFC Uncasville Rodrigo Damm Won by KO, Round 3, 2:41
Nov. 7, 2014 UFC Sydney Ross Pearson Won by KO, Round 2, 1:39
Jan. 31, 2015 UFC 183 Joe Lauzon Won by KO, Round 2, 3:34
April 4, 2015 UFC Fairfax Jorge Masvidal Won by split decision
April 22, 2017 UFC Nashville Diego Sanchez Won by KO, Round 1, 1:43

LONG ISLAND IN THE UFC

dennis bermudez
gregor gillespie
al iaquinta
brian kelleher
ryan laflare
aljamain sterling
chris wade
chris weidman
gian villante

Where are they now?

luke cummo
eddie gordon
jay hieron
alptekin ozkilic
pete sell
matt serra

Aljamain Sterling

Uniondale | 7 UFC fights

With a backpack full of goodies, Aljamain Sterling went to work.

“I’ve been a hustler ever since I can remember,” Sterling said.

Dollar candy bars, two-dollar king size bars. And those Capri Sun drinks that were frozen at the start of the day?

“By third or fourth period, they’d be like a slushie,” Sterling said.

Those went for a buck.

Not a bad gig for an enterprising young kid in his primary education years.

Sterling, a top-ranked UFC bantamweight fighter, has 19 siblings. He lived in Roosevelt then moved to Uniondale. He wrestled at Uniondale High School and in college at Cortland.

“They say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere and I truly do believe that,” Sterling, 27, said. “I think there’s something about it, in this atmosphere, where you develop that go-getter attitude.

“I grew up in Roosevelt, I grew up in Uniondale, right next door to Hempstead and all these places that people don’t really like to go to. I never shy away from going back to those places because I know those are the places that helped mold me. That’s me. That’s who I am at the very roots of everything.”

Who Sterling is in the mixed martial arts world is a talented fighter with a skill set that many people say translates to future tight contender.

He began his career with 12 straight wins, including a title in Cage Fury and a 4-0 start on his UFC resume. After back-to-back losses by split decision to Bryan Caraway and Raphael Assuncao, Sterling beat Augusto Mendes by unanimous decision last April.

“When you get to a pinnacle of the sport where we’ve reached, you become really appreciative of anything you get and really appreciative of the background you have,” Sterling said. “I’m a product of my environment but I never let the environment define me.”

Sterling is next scheduled to fight Renan Barao, a former bantamweight champion, at UFC 214 in Anaheim, California, on July 29. That fight will take place at a catchweight of 140 pounds since the California State Athletic Commission won’t license Barao at 135 pounds because of past issues with weight cutting.

Regardless of the contracted weight of the bout, Sterling sees the bigger picture. He knows a win over Barao carries a certain cachet. At one point, Barao had a 33-fight non-losing streak (one no contest) and was among the pound-for-pound best in the sport. It would mark the next step in Sterling’s career.

“With MMA, I haven’t gotten that financial stability and satisfaction yet, but there’s something you just can’t really trade for the experiences and I think that speaks for itself,” Sterling said. “I think that’s worth more than money. There’s a couple more things I want to experience before I hang ’em up and be content with what I’ve done in the sport. Right now I’m going to keep this gravy train rolling and keep pushing toward the top.”

ALJAMAIN STERLING’S UFC FIGHT HISTORY
Date Event Opponent Result
Feb. 22, 2014 UFC 170 Cody Gibson Won by unanimous decision
July 16, 2014 UFC Atlantic City Hugo Viana Won by TKO, Round 3, 3:50
April 18, 2015 UFC on Fox 15 Takeya Mizugaki Won by submission, Round 3, 2:11
Dec. 10, 2015 UFC Las Vegas Johnny Eduardo Won by submission, Round 2, 4:18
May 29, 2016 UFC Las Vegas Bryan Caraway Lost by split decision
Jan. 28, 2017 UFC Denver Raphael Assuncao Lost by split decision
April 15, 2017 UFC Kansas City Augusto Mendes Won by unanimous decision
July 29, 2017 UFC 214 Renan Barao

LONG ISLAND IN THE UFC

dennis bermudez
gregor gillespie
al iaquinta
brian kelleher
ryan laflare
aljamain sterling
chris wade
chris weidman
gian villante

Where are they now?

luke cummo
eddie gordon
jay hieron
alptekin ozkilic
pete sell
matt serra

Chris Weidman

Baldwin | 12 UFC fights

Every interview he does during fight week, every news conference and every media scrum, he’ll face the same set of questions. He knows it.

“These are the cards I was dealt,” former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman said. “I went out there to win these fights, I lost.”

Weidman, from Baldwin, will headline UFC’s first trip to his hometown on July 22 when he fights Kelvin Gastelum in Nassau Coliseum at UFC Long Island.

He’ll make his walk to the octagon inside the arena he grew up going to Islanders games at before it was renovated this past year. He’ll do so on a three-fight losing streak. He’ll do so having spent the previous week answering questions about how the once-undefeated and seemingly unstoppable champion could lose to Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero and Gegard Mousasi.

“It’s something that I gotta move on from and focus on the future. I don’t let a loss or a setback define me,” Weidman said. “I’m not going to let that bother me. The greatest athletes of all time don’t. LeBron James, the Kobe Bryants, all these guys, they have bad games, they have bad weeks, they have bad months. But they find their way back.”

Weidman (13-3, 9-3 UFC) will attempt to do just that against Gastelum, a former “Ultimate Fighter” winner who will fight at middleweight after struggling several times to make the 171-pound limit for welterweight bouts. Gastelum (14-2, 8-2, 1 no contest) has won three fights in a row, the last of which — a first-round TKO of Vitor Belfort — was overturned to a no contest after Gastelum tested positive for marijuana metabolites.

There are things in Weidman’s head that he sees now that he could have done differently, be it in the fight or in camp or elsewhere that maybe would have made a difference. But that’s an alternate reality now. Yes, he threw that spinning back kick against Rockhold at UFC 194 in Las Vegas. Yes, he put his head on the wrong side when he shot in on Romero at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Yes, there was mass confusion about whether Mousasi’s knee strikes were legal and how that whole controversial ending played out at UFC 210 in Buffalo.

“I put a lot of work into this sport, a lot of time,” Weidman said. “I’ve had some setbacks now and I’m very motivated to show my skill set. It looks as if I’m on the downswing of my career if you look at my record. You come watch me train, I’m getting better. It’s not like I’m in here getting my [expletive] kicked in sparring and I’m trying to mentally push myself to think I’m still good. I’m still doing my thing in every element of MMA.

“I just have to make it work on fight night.”

That fight night will occur 15 minutes from where he grew up. It will happen across the street from where he was a two-time All-American wrestler for Nassau Community College. It will take place across the other street from where he was a two-time All-American wrestler for Hofstra. It will unfold a three-minute drive from the gym he spent the past nine years of his life training in mixed martial arts, the gym he now co-owns with Ray Longo, his trainer for his entire career.

“This,” Weidman said, “is going to be one of these things I’ll be able to take with me for the rest of my life.”

CHRIS WEIDMAN’S UFC FIGHT HISTORY
Date Event Opponent Result
March 3, 2011 UFC on Versus Alessio Sakara Won by unanimous decision
June 11, 2011 UFC 131 Jesse Bongfeldt Won by submission, Round 1, 4:54
Nov. 19, 2011 UFC 139 Tom Lawlor Won by submission, Round 1, 2:07
Jan. 28, 2012 UFC on Fox 2 Demian Maia Won by unanimous decision
July 11, 2012 UFC on Fuel TV 4 Mark Munoz Won by KO, Round 2, 1:37
July 6, 2013 UFC 162 Anderson Silva Won by KO, Round 2, 1:18
Dec. 28, 2013 UFC 168 Anderson Silva Won by TKO (injury), Round 2, 1:18
July 5, 2014 UFC 175 Lyoto Machida Won by unanimous decision
May 23, 2015 UFC 187 Vitor Belfort Won by TKO, Round 1, 2:53
Dec. 12, 2015 UFC 194 Luke Rockhold Lost by TKO, Round 4, 3:12
Nov. 12, 2016 UFC 205 Yoel Romero Lost by KO, Round 3, 0:24
April 8, 2017 UFC 210 Gegard Mousasi Lost by TKO, Round 2, 3:13
July 22, 2017 UFC Long Island Kelvin Gastelum

LONG ISLAND IN THE UFC

dennis bermudez
gregor gillespie
al iaquinta
brian kelleher
ryan laflare
aljamain sterling
chris wade
chris weidman
gian villante

Where are they now?

luke cummo
eddie gordon
jay hieron
alptekin ozkilic
pete sell
matt serra