UFC St. Petersburg’s co-main event will pit lightweights Islam Makhachev and Arman Tsarukyan against each other in what should be one heck of a fight.
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Makhachev (16-1) has rattled off four straight wins since losing at UFC 192. The Russian fighter will surely have a large following in St. Petersburg. A win should earn the 27-year-old a bid in the top 15. As for Tsarukyan (13-1). A young man of Armenian descent, Tsarukyan is a decorated striker with a grappling game to match. The 22-year-old averages four fights a year since turning pro, this will be his first of 2019.
Both Makhachev and Tsarukyan look ready to go as they take the center of the Octagon. Tsarukyan throws a head kick to start that misses. Makhachev pumps his jab, Tsarukyan slips and regains his balance as Makhachev closes the distance. Tsarukyan looks to take Makhachev down but is having a hard time against the cage. Makhachev lands a trip takedown. He lands some punches but Tsarukyan gets back to his feet. Makhachev looks for a front choke but Tsarukyan defends. Both guys battling for position. Tsarukyan tosses Makhachev and keeps his hands grasped around his waist. Makhachev lands an uppercut in the clinch, he lets Tsarukyan go. The round ends.
The fighters touch gloves. Makhachev pumps his jab and works forward to start round two. He throws a heavy body kick. Tsarukyan shoots a takedown from a far but Makhachev easily defends it. Tsarukyan throws a leg kick as he gets back to his feet. He goes high and nearly lands a KO blow. Makhachev defends a takedown and the men end up in a clinch halfway through the second stanza. The pace slows a bit as Makhachev runs the pipe, Tsarukyan bounces right back up to his feet. Makhachev has wrist control but Tsarukyan looks for a kimura, forcing Makhachev to defend. He lets the hold go to get back to his feet. Tsarukyan looks for a takedown of his own as he dives on Makhachev’s leg. The fighters grapple for position as the horn sounds.
The fighters trade in the center of the Octagon to start the final round. Tsarukyan lands a right hand. Makhachev lands a head kick but Tsarukyan walks through it. Unreal. Tsarukyan offers a front kick up then dives on Makhachev’s leg. He works for it but Makhachev defends and looks for his own takedown. The men take a breather in the clinch and Makhachev eats an elbow on the break. Makhachev scores a takedown and ties up his legs. He blasts some right hands in Tsarukyan’s face. Somehow Tsarukyan gets back to his feet but Makhachev is on him like glue with one minute to go. He drives Tsarukyan into the cage and uses the cage to spring off and take Tsarukyan down. He laces his legs and punches Tsarukyan as the fight ends.
Islam Makhachev defeats Arman Tsarukyan via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)