Arman Tsarukyan’s rise in the MMA ranks continues after another strong showing over the weekend.
The Armenian from Akhalkalaki, Georgia delivered an absolutely dominant performance on Sunday morning at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi, defeating Matt Frevola in a catchweight bout via unanimous decision on UFC’s “Fight Island.”
Tsarukyan controlled the three-round bout from start to finish, landing 10 of his 12 takedown attempts and out-striking Frevola, 50-16. The three judges scored the fight 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26 in favor of Tsarukyan, who improved to 16-2 in his professional career with the win and won his third consecutive UFC fight after losing in his debut.
“This guy,” Tsarukyan said of Frevola during his post-fight media availability. “He has a very good Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He’s a brown belt. He’s not easy. I tried (to choke him) sometimes, but he has good defense. It was very hard, but my freestyle wrestling is better and so was my control, my striking, and I can do everything.”
The victory didn’t come without some headaches. Tsarukyan was originally scheduled to fight Nasrat Haqparast in a lightweight bout, but the Afghan withdrew from the fight on Friday citing an undisclosed illness. The UFC instead offered the fight to Matt Frevola on short notice. Frevola is an orthodox fighter, which presented a new challenge for Tsarukyan, who had prepared for a faceoff with a southpaw fighter in Haqparast.
“My coach said I just had to spar and not think about the technical part, because I didn’t have a camp for (Frevola). I did what I know for orthodox. My wrestling helped me and I’m happy (with the result),” explained Tsarukyan.
Despite the win, the 24 year-old had to forfeit 20 percent of his purse from the fight because he missed weight. Tsarukyan clocked in at 157 pounds—one pound over the lightweight non-title fight limit. That said, Tsarukyan expects a bump in the UFC’s lightweight rankings and a date with a top 15 opponent for his next fight. Tsarukyan says he wants to face Al Iaquinta.
“If he doesn’t want to fight, then get out of the top 15. I want to take his place,” said Tsarukyan. “I think I’m ready for the top 15. I’m young. I’m hungry.”