Arman Tsarukyan vs. Mateusz Gamrot
Two in-form lightweights eager to push into the division’s top 10 rankings front Saturday night’s show, with Tsarukyan having won his last five fights in the UFC, while Gamrot has strung together a trio of victories too.
This has all the makings of a very competitive fight between two very talented, well-rounded fighters. Despite his strong ground game, Tsarukyan is also a very capable striker who will press forward with aggression and has been flexing fight-ending ability in recent outings. Gamrot is also a relatively assured striker and does a good job of mixing things up, making the most of his solid wrestling and seasoned grappling ability too.
Generally that multi-faceted approach works nicely for Gamrot, but you have to wonder how he’ll fare beyond the striking exchanges against Tsarukyan, who has very impressive wrestling ability, even giving Islam Makhachev a challenge in his UFC debut. Tsarukyan also delivers very good ground-and-pound on top and like Gamrot offers a submission threat too.
As a former KSW champion, Gamrot has the five-round experience advantage here that his opponent lacks, but I still feel that Tsarukyan’s superiority in the wrestling battle that be the difference-maker here, earning him a win on the scorecards.
Prediction: Arman Tsarukyan to win by decision Bet @ Neds
Neil Magny vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov
Veteran UFC campaigner Magny comes into this fight at No.10 on the welterweight rankings after picking up five wins from his last six fights, while the 15th placed Rakhmonov is an exciting rising prospect with a perfect 15-0 career record, including three stoppage wins since joining the UFC in 2020.
Magny has fought a who’s-who of 170lb stars over the years, but even so it’s worth noting that he’s given former M-1 champ Rakhmonov a lot of respect heading into this fight, talking about how he’ll have to dig deep to emerge victorious and suggesting that he’ll have to throw with more power than usual, rather than relying on his usual distance management and speed.
That’s an interesting admission as though Magny is a very solid all-rounder with a lot of tools on his belt, he has never been much of a power puncher and so you do have to wonder how well he’ll fare in that regard, but it does speak to how highly he, along with many others, think of Rakhmonov at this relatively early stage in his UFC run.
The 27-year-old Rakhmonov is a fighter who is adept anywhere the fight goes and is a proven finisher whose yet to go the distance in his eight-year career, with his wins being almost evenly split between strikes and submissions.
Rakhmonov isn’t reckless in pursuit of fight-ending opportunities though, instead fighting technically and with composure in the heat of the moment, while still having that killer instinct.
This is a big step up in competition for Rakhmonov against a vastly experienced fighter, but I feel he has all the skills necessary to compete very favorably against a jack-of-all-trades like Magny, while being a far more potent threat and I’ll take him to make the most of his power advantage on the feet to secure a TKO stoppage in the second round.
Prediction: Shavkat Rakhmonov to win by TKO in Rd2 Bet @ Neds
Josh Parisian vs. Alan Baudot
Two heavyweights in dire need of a win here, with Parisian having lost two of his three UFC fights, while Baudot has yet to taste victory in his three Octagon outings so far.
To tell the truth, neither fighter has done much to indicate that they are better than those UFC records suggest. Parisian will apply pressure on the feet and does mix in some creative techniques at times, but can also get bogged down in the clinch and his wrestling ability is fairly limited.
Baudot is a muay thai striker and like his opponent has power, but he’ll eat plenty of shots too and doesn’t have a ground game to fall back on.
This one really could go either way and could end up being quite untidy, but I think Parisian’s forward pressure will help him edge out the action to secure a decision win.
Prediction: Josh Parisian to win by decision Bet @ Neds
Thiago Moises vs. Christos Giagos
After a nice three-fight winning streak, Moises has now suffered two losses in a row inside the distance, while Giagos saw back-to-back wins broken by a TKO defeat against this weekend’s headliner Arman Tsarukyan last time out.
These two are fairly well-matched for the most part. Moises will make use of his muay thai striking on the feet and should be a bit more technical than Giagos, though he doesn’t have a particularly high output or notable stopping power.
Giagos will be more active on the feet and will try to apply pressure while also hunting for opportunities to use his wrestling and get the fight to the mat.
Moises has the better Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu here though and Giagos has been tapped out several times in the past – although to be fair that was mostly against high-level BJJ players. More worryingly, Giagos tends to struggle to maintain his early pace into the later rounds, and I think that in an otherwise close fight that helps swing the fight in Moises favor when this one goes to the judges.
Prediction: Thiago Moises to win by decision Bet @ Neds
Nathan Maness vs. Umar Nurmagomedov
Maness comes into this fight with a 14-1 overall record, including three wins in a row since joining the UFC, while Nurmagomedov is undefeated at 14-0 with two submission wins in his first two UFC outings.
Of course Nurmagomedov is a cousin of legendary lightweight Khabib and it shows as he is another tremendously dominant wrestler, and he also has a good submission game to go along with it, while on the feet his offense is largely kick-orientated.
Maness is a solid all-rounder who will have to hope that his respectable takedown defense helps him out here so he can make the most of his boxing ability. He’s a tough customer and has shown the ability to battle back from adversity to get the win.
While their career records aren’t too far apart, the reality is that Nurmagomedov is on a different level and I fully expect him to make full use of his major grappling advantage to control the action and produce a submission finish in the second round.
Prediction: Umar Nurmagomedov to win by submission in Rd2 Bet @ Neds
Chris Curtis vs. Rodolfo Vieira
A well-travelled veteran, Curtis exceeded expectations when he joined the UFC last year, winning two fights in a row, while the unthinkable happened for BJJ ace Vieira last year when he was submitted by Alexander Hernandez, but he’s since rebounded with a submission finish of his own.
In fact, as one of the most credentialed BJJ specialists in the sport it’s perhaps no surprise that all but one of Vieira’s eight careers have come via submission, and that’s why it was so shocking why he was tapped out himself in the Octagon. That wasn’t anything to with his ability however, instead coming about due to running out of gas in the fight. It’s one of a few weaknesses in his game, along with not taking a punch well, though he’s not a bad striker.
That could well be a problem against Curtis as he has a big advantage in the stand-up department here and finishing power to go along with it that he carries deep into his fights. His takedown defense will also come in handy, while he’s only ever been submitting once in 36 career fights, and that was over a decade ago. That being said, it’s still a stat that could quickly change if he spends much time on the mat with Vieira.
I think an experienced veteran Curtis is the kind of fighter that could cause problems for Vieira, keeping the fight upright, punishing him with solid strikes and outlasting him energy wise to seal a third round TKO stoppage.
Prediction: Chris Curtis to win by TKO in Rd3 Bet @ Neds
UFC on ESPN: Tsarukyan vs. Gamrot Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
Carlos Ulberg vs. Tafon Nchukwi
Brian Kelleher vs. Mario Bautista
Shayilan Nuerdanbieke vs. T.J. Brown
Raulian Paiva vs. Sergey Morozov
Vanessa Demopoulos vs. Jinh Yu Frey
JP Buys vs. Cody Durden
About the Author: Ross Cole
Ross Cole is one of the most prolific mixed martial arts writers in the world, having written more than 17,000 MMA news stories for MMA Insight, which he founded in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts, and reaching millions of die-hard MMA fans in the process. You can read more of Ross’s work at MMAInsight.com.