The UFC heads to Austin, TX this weekend. And they’ve bringing a pretty darn good card with them. We’ve got top lightweights Beneil Dariush and Arman Tsarukyan tangling in the main event. But before they go at it there’s also Jalin Turner vs. Bobby Green, Rob Font vs. Deiveson Figueiredo and Miesha Tate vs. Julia Avila. There’s also a Clay Guida sighting!
With more gusto than usual, the BE staff have looked over this UFC fight night card and picked who they think will come out on top.
In the UFC Fight Night: Dariush vs. Tsarukyan main event, it’s pretty tight. More of us are picking Dariush over Tsarukyan here, but not by much. This could mean we have a pretty close (and hopefully exciting) fight on our hands come Saturday night.
To see the rest of our picks, keep on scrollin’. And please hit up the comments to tell us who you think is going to win in Texas this weekend.
UFC Fight Night: Dariush vs. Tsarukyan staff picks and predictions
Beneil Dariush vs. Arman Tsarukyan
Anton Tabuena: Tough fight to pick. I think both grapplers will spend long portions on the feet, where they’ll both be all over the place and hard to predict. I honestly don’t know how this goes, but when a lot of things are close, physicality, athleticism, and durability can just be what gets them over the top and I think Tsarukyan is better on all those categories. Arman Tsarukyan by decision.
Dayne: This fight rules, which is why it sucks to pick it. Tsarukyan is an absolute stud. Perhaps the best wrestler/scrambler in the UFC’s lightweight division, Tsarukyan has also developed into a dangerous power striker. He’s still somewhat undisciplined, but the power is there. And given Dariush’s chin is something that has been touched up with great frequency, it should be academic, right? Well… I wouldn’t be so sure.
One can’t be that chinny and win eight UFC fights in a row like Dariush did. And while Tsarukyan’s striking is improving, Dariush is one of the most underrated strikers in the division. In other words, I’m not so sure Tsarukyan has the advantage on the feet, even if Dariush’s chin is fragile. On the mat, Dariush has been a shut down guy. He smothered Mateusz Gamrot, someone who has a win over Tsarukyan just 17 months ago Tsarukyan is physically stronger than Gamrot, so it will be difficult for Dariush to do the same thing to Tsarukyan.
Still, Dariush has more experience with quality opposition and was doing well against Charles Oliveira until he wasn’t. And while Tsarukyan has a fair amount of finishes, most of those are via GnP. I don’t see him getting Dariush in that position without rocking him on the feet. In other words, this looks like a very winnable fight for Dariush at UFC Austin. I like the silver haired one to emerge successful. Dariush via decision
Chris: This is a criminally unfair fight. Dariush was the guy with the skillset and win streak that made top 5 UFC fighters avoid him like the plague. Somehow he made himself undeniable and inserted his name into the title picture only to be struck down by Charles Oliveira. Arman Tsarukyan is the prospect with the exact same reputation whose losses only serve to amplify his upside. Now Dariush is tasked with vanquishing a younger version of himself to reclaim his title hopes. I didn’t want to pick Dariush because I just rewatched Tsarukyan vs Makhachev and also have a soft spot for Arman. Alas, the coin has spoken.
Zane: I get the feeling this might be a brutally close fight. Arman Tsarukyan likely has the strength and wrestling technique to take advantage of Dariush’s aggression, at least for a little while. But if Dariush starts to get a bead on Tsarukyan’s takedown game, then he’s the much more forceful, dangerous, pressuring striker.
That said, I’ve also never seen Dariush go 5 rounds before and the way he dumps energy when he really gets cooking makes me think that if he can’t put Tsarukyan away, he’ll end up getting pretty tired, something that pretty much never happens to the Russo-Armenian. I’ll take Arman Tsarukyan by decision, just because I think he can win early and win late, but the middle rounds could get awfully dicey for him. Arman Tsarukyan by decision.
Staff picking Dariush: Chris, Dayne, Stephie, Tim, Eddie, Jack
Staff picking Tsarukyan: Kristen, Zane, Victor, Lucas, Anton
Jalin Turner vs. Bobby Green
Anton: This is a close match up that can go either way on normal circumstances, but on this case I’m not picking a guy coming in on very very short notice. Easier said than done, but he just has to be defensively sound early, and it will most likely be Bobby Green by late TKO.
Dayne: Give both men a full camp and I’m singing a different song. But give Turner just two weeks to make 155 and expect him to be at full strength? That seems like an impossibility for what may be the largest lightweight to have graced the UFC roster. It isn’t hard to see Turner managing to knock Green silly early in the fight, before Turner’s gas tank depletes.
But Green is traditionally durable and has been preparing for this fight for a while. And while Green was untrustworthy with his fight IQ for many years, the wily veteran appears to have figured things out. It doesn’t hurt that Green appears to be in love with fighting again after many years of seeming frustration that led to him flirting with retirement several times over. When Green is happy, he’s at his best. On equal ground, I’d pick Turner. This fight isn’t on equal ground. Green via decision
Chris: This is Bobby Green’s time.
Zane: Don’t know that I like to see all of us picking Green here. He’s the much more defensively responsible fighter, but he’s also the much older fighter and not nearly as strong a finisher as Turner. It seems very likely to me that Turner might hurt Green early. If Green survives that, then Turner’s defensive liabilities become a huge problem, especially given how good Green is at slipping shots and returning fire. I’ll take Bobby Green, just because I think he can see a decision and rally hard in the third round, but even by that score a split might be in the cards. Bobby Green by decision.
Staff picking Turner: Stephie, Eddie, Victor, Lucas
Staff picking Green: Chris, Dayne, Kristen, Zane, Tim, Jack, Anton
Rob Font vs. Deiveson Figueiredo
Anton: This is an intriguing fight, and probably a tough match up to make his bantamweight debut in for Figueiredo. How will the former UFC champ adjust if he has to rely on speed and technique advantages (he will have those on a lot of areas), but if power, physicality, and reach are not at all on his side. I think it all boils down on how Figueiredo handles striking at distance here, and his ability to create scrambles.
If he can’t mix it up or gets stifled with those jabs from a longer and possibly slicker boxer, he is in big trouble. He’ll have to adjust and go away from a lot of habits he’s used to at flyweight, but he should be the more skilled and dynamic MMA fighter overall here. Not cutting that much weight and this only being 3 rounds should also help his output. There’s a lot of question marks, but I’m still going with Deiveson Figueiredo by decision.
Dayne: Figueiredo looked like the last thing he wanted to do was be a professional fighter in his last fight. Then again, he was facing Brandon Moreno for the fourth consecutive time and had to endure another cut to 125. It could very well be that moving up to 135 is exactly what Figueiredo needs to reinvigorate himself. After all, not having to cut the extra 10 pounds should add more energy and power to him… and we’ve seen what he can do with a greater need to conserve energy.
All that said, Font shouldn’t be overlooked. After all, there are few in the UFC who are better pure boxers than him and he’s one of the lankier bantamweights on the roster. He doesn’t lack for power either. Where he does lack is in the ability to stop takedowns. A compromised Cory Sandhagen took him down time and again. Figueiredo isn’t exactly known for wrestling, but he can do it. If the typically durable Figueiredo starts eating too many shots, he should be able to stop the onslaught with a takedown before righting his ship. Figueiredo via decision
Zane: So much of what made Figueiredo a great UFC flyweight was how phenomenally strong and powerful he was compared to the rest of his division. Up at BW, he might have an extra speed advantage, but a lot of his ability to physically bully people will likely be diminished. I also really don’t like how gunshy Figgy has seemed about trading in the pocket over his last couple fights with Moreno.
Font isn’t the most complicated test out there, but he’s got size, reach, healthy power, and a fantastic chin. I’m gonna pick Rob Font to lay on the volume and not face the same level of defensive responsibility or ungodly confidence he saw in his losses to Vera or Aldo. Rob Font by decision.
Staff picking Font: Kristen, Zane, Eddie, Jack, Lucas
Staff picking Figueiredo: Dayne, Stephie, Tim, Victor, Anton
Sean Brady vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Dayne: I get that Gastelum is coming off a win over Chris Curtis. But it was a controversial win thanks to the inadvertent head butt in the second round and now he’s dropping down to welterweight. I get that he appears to have more discipline in his life, but he last fought at 170 in 2016. I’m sure it would have been easier to make weight at 25 than it is now that he’s 32.
Besides, Gastelum doesn’t appear to be the same fighter who took Israel Adesanya to the brink in 2019. He looks like a solid UFC gatekeeper to the top 10, but no more than that. Which begs the question: does Brady deserve his spot in the top ten?
Hard to say. His best UFC win came over Michael Chiesa, a win that looks less impressive as more time goes. The loss to Belal Muhammad has aged well, but that also saw Brady get beat up on the feet. Gastelum isn’t as disciplined as Muhammad, but he has more power and has a more natural feel for striking than most give him credit for. Regardless, I don’t see Gastelum responding well to cutting the extra 15 pounds after so many years at 185. I expect he’ll be tired and Brady can execute his vaunted wrestling. Brady gets back on track. Brady via decision
Zane: I don’t really like this fight for Brady at all. His inability to keep a fight in control for multiple rounds, or to survive striking exchanges when momentum starts going against him feel like big red flags. Gastelum can lose to anyone if he decides to sleep walk his way through the fight, but I think the fire is there right now. Kelvin Gastelum via TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Brady: Dayne, Kristen, Stephie, Tim, Jack, Victor, Lucas
Staff picking Gastelum: Zane, Eddie, Anton
Punahele Soriano vs. Dustin Stoltzfus
Dayne: Stoltzfus doesn’t have a single stand out skill set. He’s solid everywhere, but that can be said about most of the UFC roster. I’d even say Stoltzfus has the advantage on the mat over Soriano, but I don’t know if he can get the fight there for him to expose Soriano. As for Soriano, he is a standout power striker. His boxing could use more polish, but he’s solid enough that I have a hard time believing he doesn’t catch Stoltzfus. Soriano via TKO of RD2
Zane: If Soriano can’t get this win then something has gone seriously wrong for him. Punahele Soriano via KO, Round 1.
Staff picking Soriano: Dayne, Kristen, Stephie, Zane, Tim, Eddie, Jack, Victor, Lucas, Anton
Staff picking Stoltzfus:
Clay Guida vs. Joaquim Silva
Dayne: Back in the day, Silva would be tailor made for Guida to style on. Nearly impossible to put away and chuck full of energy, Guida probably would have survived whatever bomb Silva would throw at him, then proceed to outwork him…
To read the rest of our UFC Fight Night: Beneil Dariush vs. Arman Tsarukyan staff picks head on over to Substack. Now that Bloody Elbow is a fully independent site the best way to support us, so that we can continue fearless coverage of combat sports, is to pick up a paid subscription. Paid subscribers help fund other exclusive content like editorials from Karim Zidan and Jonathan Snowden and investigations by John S. Nash.
Anton and Eddie are tied for the lead after going 10-3 at UFC Fight Night: Allen vs. Craig. Zane is right there, though, just three correct picks back. Any slip up by the top two at UFC Fight Night: Dariush vs. Tsarukyan could see him leapfrog into first place for the first time this year.
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