UFC Fight Night Report: Mateusz Gamrot defeats Arman Tsarukyan by decision
On Saturday night, the UFC held a Fight Night event at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was headlined by a bout between two ranked lightweight competitors, as Arman Tsarukyan faced Mateusz Gamrot. Tsarukyan made his UFC debut back in April of 2019, a bout he lost to Islam Makhachev that earned Fight of the Night honors. Since then, Tsarukyan has won five consecutive fights, highlighted by a stoppage victory over Joel Alvarez. Like Tsarukyan, Gamrot lost his UFC debut (to Guram Kutateladze) in a bout that earned him a Fight of the Night bonus, and since that loss, he has won all of his fights in the promotion, stopping Diego Ferreira and Jeremy Stephens in his last two bouts. The winner of this bout was likely to climb into a top ten spot in the lightweight rankings, so this was certainly an important fight for both of these rising contenders. The co-main event featured the 10th ranked welterweight, Neil Magny, looking to defend his spot in the rankings against one of the division’s hottest prospects, Shavkat Rakhmonov.
Brendan Fitzgerald provided commentary for this card alongside Michael Bisping and Paul Felder. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Thiago Moises, Shavkat Rakhmonov, and Josh Parisian. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Arman Tsarukyan and Mateusz Gamrot.
*Vanessa Demopoulos def. Jinh Yu Frey by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
*Mario Bautista def. Brian Kelleher by rear-naked choke at 2:27 of Round 1
*Cody Durden def. J.P. Buys by TKO at 1:08 of Round 1
*Sergey Morozov def. Raulian Pavia by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Shayilan Nuerdanbieke def. T.J. Brown by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Carlos Ulberg def. Tafon Nchukwi by TKO at 1:15 of Round 1
*Chris Curtis def. Rodolfo Vieira by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Umar Nurmagomedov def. Nate Maness by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-25)
*Thiago Moises def. Christos Giagos by rear-naked choke at 3:05 of Round 1
*Josh Parisian def. Alan Baudot by TKO at 3:04 of Round 2
*Shavkat Rakhmonov def. Neil Magny by guillotine choke at 4:58 of Round 2
*Mateusz Gamrot def. Arman Tsarukyan by unanimous decision (48-47 all)
VANESSA DEMOPOULOS (7-4, 115.5) VS JINH YU FREY (11-6, 115.5) – STRAWWEIGHT
Frey landed the first significant shots of the fight, a strong one-two. A jab from Frey knocked Demopoulos off balance, but she quickly picked herself up, seemingly undamaged. Demopoulos connected with a pair of heavy right hands, which prompted Frey to pick up the aggression, pressuring forward with combinations of strikes. Demopoulos changed levels and secured a takedown, however, she was unable to keep Frey down for long. They traded right hands as the round reached its conclusion. 10-9 Frey.
Frey stuffed a takedown from Demopoulos in the opening minute of round two. Frey was getting the better of Demopoulos on the feet, but Demopoulos seemed to have the power advantage and was landing powerful shots whenever her punches found their target. When Demopoulos pressured forward, she found success, but I didn’t think she had quite enough of those moments throughout the round, and I narrowly gave this round to Frey. 20-18 Frey.
Frey blew her nose between rounds, which caused her eye to swell slightly, and she told her corner that she was seeing double. The fighters met in the middle of the octagon to begin the final round, and they traded heavy hands. Demopoulos seemed to land the better shots, and she pressured forward, shooting for a takedown after backing Frey into the cage. Frey defended the attempt and broke away from the clinch with a strong elbow. Demopoulos was looking slightly fatigued, which was something that Frey was able to capitalize on, consistently beating Demopoulos to the punch. Demopoulos did good work against the cage in this round, landing some knees to the body, however, was unable to get Frey back to the ground. The fighters ended the fight trading wild shots, with Frey landing some particularly hard ones right before time expired. 30-27 Frey.
WINNER: Vanessa Demopoulos by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
I was shocked when the scorecards were read. From my perspective, Frey was constantly getting the better of Demopoulos during their striking exchanges, out landing Demopoulos while doing more accumulative damage throughout the fight. She also defended nearly all of Demopoulos’s attempts to bring the fight to the ground, and it’s tough for me to see two rounds in this fight that one could justify scoring in Demopoulos’s favor. Regardless, Demopoulos got her arm raised in the end and jumped into Michael Bisping’s arms in the same fashion that she jumped into Joe Rogan’s following her victory at UFC 270. Her UFC record now stands at 2-1.
BRIAN KELLEHER (24-13, 135.5) VS MARIO BAUTISTA (9-2, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Bautista secured an early takedown, but Kelleher was able to work his way back to the feet without taking much damage. It was a short-lived success, however, as Bautista tripped Kelleher to the ground, where he quickly took the back of his opponent. Bautista sunk in a rear-naked choke, and Kelleher was forced to submit.
WINNER: Mario Bautista by rear-naked choke at 2:27 of Round 1
This was close to a perfect performance from Mario Bautista, who dominated an experienced opponent in Brian Kelleher. The fight did not go long, but Bautista showcased his grappling ability here, picking up his first submission win in the UFC. In his post-fight interview, Bautista suggested fighting the winner of one of the other two bantamweight fights on this card in his next bout. Bautista’s UFC record improved to 4-2 following this win.
J.P. BUYS (9-4, 126) VS CODY DURDEN (12-4-1, 126) – FLYWEIGHT
Durden wobbled Buys with a short combination in the opening seconds of the fight, before dropping him with a short right hand. Durden did not allow Buys to his feet, landing numerous hooks to the side of Buys head until the fight was eventually stopped.
WINNER: Cody Durden by TKO at 1:08 of Round 1
Durden caught Buys in the opening exchange, and gave him no space to recover, just swarming Buys with strikes until he dropped (and eventually stopped) him. This was far and away Durden’s most impressive performance in the UFC and a strong way to rebound after losing to Muhammad Mokaev in under a minute back in March. Durden’s UFC record now stands at 2-2-1 following this win.
RAULIAN PAIVA (21-4, 136) VS SERGEY MOROZOV (17-5, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Paiva rocked Morozov with an overhand right in the opening minute, however, Morozov was able to wrap Paiva up against the cage, buying himself time to recover. When the fighters eventually separated, Paiva continued to tee off on Morozov, landing these heavy right hands that were getting big reactions. Morozov’s chin held up, and he began to fire back, catching Paiva with counter hooks whenever Paiva got overly aggressive. This was an entertaining round. 10-9 Paiva.
Morozov timed a double leg takedown expertly, catching Paiva on his way in, and taking him down in the middle of the cage. Paiva decided to roll for a leg lock, but Morozov was able to stack Paiva to avoid the submission. Paiva picked himself up along the cage, however, he ate a knee to the head in the process, and was unable to break Morozov’s grip around his waste. In the final minute of the round, Paiva finally broke away, and he threatened a guillotine choke to stay on his feet following a second takedown attempt from Morozov. 19-19.
Morozov aggressively pursued a takedown to begin the final round, but Paiva was able to stay on his feet. Morozov was out landing Paiva on the feet here in the third round, and Paiva was looking fatigued, while Morozov still bouncing around the cage. Paiva shot for a pair of takedowns around the halfway point of the round, but both attempts were easily defended by Morozov. Paiva’s takedown defense continued to hold up as well, however, his output wasn’t quite there offensively, and I thought this was a round for Morozov, despite Paiva finally getting Morozov to the ground in the fight’s final seconds. 29-28 Morozov.
WINNER: Sergey Morozov by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Five minutes into this fight, things were looking rough for Sergey Morozov, but he turned things around in the second round, really taking control of this fight with his grappling. The pace of the bout wore on Paiva, and he was clearly tired by the third round, which slowed his output offensively, allowing Morozov to outland him throughout that final round. Morozov’s UFC record improved to 2-2 with this win.
SHAYILAN NUERDANBIEKE (37-10, 146) VS T.J. BROWN (16-8, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Nuerdanbieke was doing his best to turn this fight into a wild brawl from the opening bell, and Brown obliged, throwing back heavy shots. After getting wobbled by a pair of hard hooks, Brown shot in for a takedown, but Nuerdanbieke managed to take top position. Brown attempted a calf slicer, and Nuerdanbieke seemed to be attempting a leg lock in response. Neither man locked in the submission, but chaos resulted in the fight returning to the feet, where Brown began to pressure forward. Brown defended a takedown from Nuerdanbieke, and he caught him with a left hand as Nuerdanbieke picked himself back up. They traded heavy shots against the cage before Nuerdanbieke brought the fight back to the ground with a minute to work. Brown attempted to lock in a kimura, however, he could not complete the submission before the round reached its end. 10-9 Nuerdanbieke.
Nuerdanbieke quickly secured a takedown to begin the second round. He attempted to take the back of Brown, but the positioning wasn’t quite there, which allowed Brown to take top position. Brown ultimately made the same mistake as Nuerdanbieke, losing that top position in an attempt to take his opponent’s back, however, he was able to prevent Nuerdanbieke from doing much with his top position by threatening a triangle choke. Close round. 20-18 Nuerdanbieke.
Brown connected with a big one-two early in the final round. Nuerdanbieke was able to take Brown back to the ground, where he began to work from half guard. Nuerdanbieke maintained top control for a number of minutes, and while he didn’t do a ton of damage, he did enough to prevent a stand-up. Brown worked his way into top position with roughly ninety seconds to work, and Brown’s corner was screaming at him to separate, however, he continued to engage Nuerdanbieke on the ground, and the fight ultimately went the distance. 29-28 Nuerdanbieke.
WINNER: Shayilan Nuerdanbieke by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Going into this card, I thought this was the most interesting matchup on the preliminary card just from a stylistic perspective, and I thought the fight lived up to those expectations. These fighters were very evenly matched, and after a chaotic start to the fight on the feet, this very much became a grappling match, where both men struggled to maintain the upper hand. In the end, Nuerdanbieke just seemed to be the slightly stronger grappler, and it was his takedowns and control time that made the difference in what was otherwise a very close second round. Nuerdanbieke’s UFC record improved to 2-1 following this win.
CARLOS ULBERG (6-1, 204.5) VS TAFON NCHUKWI (6-2, 206) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Ulberg threw a short-left hook just outside of the opening minute that rocked Nchukwi, and he just proceeded to swarm Nchukwi with strikes, dropping him, before finishing him on the ground with a hard right hand.
WINNER: Carlos Ulberg by TKO at 1:15 of Round 1
Ulberg timed that left hook perfectly, and he capitalized on the moment after rocking Nchukwi by just swarming him with strikes until he finally went down. Neither of Ulberg’s first two performances in the UFC exactly lit the world on fire, but he is clearly improving with every outing, and it’s worth noting that Ulberg is still just a few fights into his MMA career. Ulberg improved to 2-1 in the UFC with this win, and he shouted out Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski in his post-fight interview, who were both in attendance here (all three fight out of the City Kickboxing team in New Zealand).
CHRIS CURTIS (28-8, 185.5) VS RODOLFO VIEIRA (8-1, 185) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Curtis defended Vieira’s first takedown attempt of the fight, but Vieira pulled guard in the process and managed to wrap Curtis up against the cage as Curtis picked himself up. Vieira threw a hard knee that landed low and lost the position as a result. Vieira chased after a single leg, but Curtis was able to defend the attempt and landed a good body shot in the process. Vieira connected with a strong straight right hand, before landing a kick to the body (that referee Mark Smith initially misidentified as another low blow). Vieira worked his jab to end the round strongly. 10-9 Vieira.
Vieira began the second round with a pair of hard leg kicks, and he landed another solid jab before shooting for a single leg. Once again, Curtis defended the attempt but took another kick that landed low, and this one was legitimate. Unfortunately, referee Mark Smith thought this one landed on the body, and he was not given any time to recover. The fighters traded jabs, with Vieira mixing in straight right hands effectively. Curtis landed a heavy body shot in the final minute of the round, before connecting with a number of hard jabs. Curtis caught Vieira with a damaging hook right before time expired. 19-19.
Curtis continued to dig into the body in the final round, while easily defending Vieira’s numerous attempts to bring the fight to the ground. By this point of the fight, Curtis was clearly a bit ahead of Vieira on the feet, landing with considerably more power than his opponent. Vieira attempted to turn it on late, desperately shooting for takedowns, but Curtis’s takedown defense continued to hold up, and this was a fairly clear round in his favor. 29-28 Curtis.
WINNER: Chris Curtis by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Curtis really committed to attacking the body of Vieira throughout this fight, and between that and the many failed takedown attempts, Vieira’s gas tank depleted quickly. It was a great game plan, and it worked to perfection, earning Curtis the unanimous decision victory. In his post-fight interview, Curtis acknowledged the improvements that Vieira has made to his game, noting that his striking was much improved, which was definitely the case here, comparing this version of Vieira to the one that debuted in the promotion back in 2019. Curtis’s UFC record now stands at 3-0.
NATE MANESS (14-1, 135) VS UMAR NURMAGOMEDOV (14-0, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Nurmagomedov was able to take Maness down roughly ninety seconds into the fight after Maness closed the distance in an awkward fashion. Nurmagomedov was not terribly active from Maness’s guard, however, he maintained the position, and was eventually able to move into half guard. He landed some short ground and pound strikes before time expired, ending the round strongly. 10-9 Nurmagomedov.
It did not take Nurmagomedov long to take the fight back to the ground. He transitioned into side control, before moving into full mount. Maness did a good job of defending himself on the ground, however, he was unable to improve his position, and Nurmagomedov was racking up a lot of control time from top position. This was a very dominant round in favor of Nurmagomedov. 20-18 Nurmagomedov.
Maness was loading up with some big shots early in the final round, however, Nurmagomedov was able to match him on the feet, landing a front kick to the face at one point. Nurmagomedov knocked Maness off balance with a leg kick, before tagging Maness with a sharp hook as he composed himself. Nurmagomedov proceeded to take Maness back down near the cage, where he was able to land some strong elbows. Nurmagomedov maintained top position for the remainder of the fight, winning another round in dominant fashion. 30-26 Nurmagomedov.
WINNER: Umar Nurmagomedov by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-25)
This was fifteen minutes of complete domination from Umar Nurmagomedov. None of his UFC bouts have been in any way competitive, and he appears to be a very well-rounded fighter from what we have seen from him to this point. His grappling is just as strong as you would expect, and he appears to be quite solid on the feet as well. Nurmagomedov is going to be a tough problem to solve for even the highest-ranked fighters in the division, and I honestly would not be shocked if the UFC decides to match him up against a ranked fighter in his next bout.
THIAGO MOISES (15-6, 155.5) VS CHRISTOS GIAGOS (19-9, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Moises shot for an early takedown on Giagos, and he was successful, quickly taking the back of Giagos. Giagos picked himself up, but Moises stuck on his back, and eventually snuck an arm under the chin of Giagos. Moises applied pressure, and the choke was locked in, forcing Giagos to submit.
WINNER: Thiago Moises by rear-naked choke at 3:05 of Round 1
This was a strong way to rebound for Moises, who was coming into this fight off of a pair of stoppage losses to Islam Makhachev and Joel Alvarez respectively. Moises is a skilled grappler, and he was quickly able to bring the fight into his comfort zone, taking the back of Giagos just over a minute into the fight. In his post-fight interview, Moises called out Joe Solecki, who is a talented grappler in his own right.
JOSH PARISIAN (14-5, 265.5) VS ALAN BAUDOT (8-3, 1 NC, 253) – HEAVYWEIGHT
While both fighters began the fight aggressively, the action was paused after a kick from Baudot landed low. Baudot landed a number of leg kicks as the action resumed before the fighters traded body shots. One of Baudot’s shots opened up a cut underneath the left eye of Parisian. A short-standing hammerfist dropped Parisian hard, and Baudot followed him to the ground as he attempted to finish the fight. Parisian recovered, however, he was unable to make it back to his feet, and Baudot forced him to cover up with a number of damaging hammerfists. With a minute left in the round, Parisian escaped to his feet, where he proceeded to take Baudot down near the cage. Parisian ended the round throwing numerous ground and pound shots down at Baudot, who was seated against the cage.
Baudot caught Parisian with a pair of heavy uppercuts in the opening seconds of round two, but he was quickly taken back down. Baudot seemed a bit lost on the ground, and Parisian just threw down ground and pound strikes. The fight was on the verge of being stopped, but Parisian punched himself out and started to slow down. This allowed Baudot to return to his feet, however, he was taken right back to the ground. Parisian partially took Baudot’s back and continued to throw down shots until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Josh Parisian by TKO at 3:04 of Round 2
This was about as entertaining of a bout as you’ll see between two unranked heavyweights. They traded heavy shots until Baudot knocked Parisian down, which strangely enough, was when the fight started to play out in Parisian’s favor. Once Parisian made it back to his feet, he started hunting for takedowns, and Baudot has absolutely no answers for Parisian on the ground. Even though Parisian was exhausted, he was able to posture up and land ground and pound shots until the fight was finally stopped. Parisian came off as a very likable character in his post-fight interview, acknowledging that he must have been badly hurt by the first-round knockdown, as he has no memory of it, before stating that he was too tired to jump into Michael Bisping’s arms, as Vanessa Demopoulos did earlier in the night. Parisians UFC record now stands at 2-2.
NEIL MAGNY (26-8, 171) VS SHAVKAT RAKHMONOV (15-0, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT
Rakhmonov took Magny to the ground just seconds into the fight. He postured up and landed some strong ground and pound shots, attacking the body in order to lower Magny’s guard. Magny was able to create some distance on the ground by grabbing a hold of Rakhmonov’s right leg, however, he was unable to return to his feet. Despite the threat of the heel hook, this was a dominant round in favor of Rakhmonov. 10-9 Rakhmonov.
Rakhmonov landed a spinning kick to the body of Magny before wrapping him up against the cage. He proceeded to trip Magny to the ground, where Rakhmonov quickly moved into side control. Magny did his best to avoid submission attempts while limiting ground and pound, however, he was dominated on the ground positionally, and whenever he managed to push Rakhmonov off of him, Rakhmonov would fly right back in with a heavy right hand. In the final seconds of the round, Rakhmonov decided to go for a guillotine, and he locked the choke in tight, forcing Magny to submit with just two seconds remaining in the round.
WINNER: Shavkat Rakhmonov by guillotine choke at 4:58 of Round 2
Shavkat Rakhmonov absolutely dominated Neil Magny throughout this fight. He was easily able to take Magny to the ground, and once he got the fight there, he never gave Magny an opportunity to get back in the fight. Rakhmonov improved to 16-0 professionally following this win, and he has stopped each of those opponents inside of two rounds, with eight submission wins, and eight wins by knockout. After defeating the tenth-ranked Neil Magny with such ease here, there are no more questions regarding Shavkat Rakhmonov’s positioning in the division; this mas is a legitimate contender. He called out Stephen Thompson in his post-fight interview and urged Dana White to remember his name, as he will be the world champion soon.
ARMAN TSARUKYAN (18-2, 156) VS MATEUSZ GAMROT (20-1, 1 NC, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Gamrot stopped Tsarukyan’s first takedown attempt of the fight, before going for a single leg of his own that Tsarukyan somehow defended. Tsarukyan hit Gamrot with a pair of heavy leg kicks, before taking Gamrot down as he attempted to respond with one of his own. Gamrot rolled to his feet, where he looked to take the back of Tsarukyan, however, Tsarukyan was able to shrug him off. Tsarukyan partially landed a head kick, before defending another takedown attempt on one leg. Tsarukyan caught Gamrot with a powerful kick to the body in the rounds final minute. 10-9 Tsarukyan.
Tsarukyan’s heavy kicks continued to land in the second round, but Gamrot was finding a bit more success with his hands. The body kicks from Tsarukyan were some of the loudest strikes that you’ve ever heard land in an arena. Both fighters continued to showcase extremely high-level grappling, countering each other’s attempts to bring the fight to the ground. The body kicks from Tsarukyan were taking their toll on Gamrot and likely gave Tsarukyan the edge in what was otherwise a very close round. 20-18 Tsarukyan.
The fight continued at a remarkable pace in the third round. A short right hand from Tsarukyan caught Gamrot on his way in, and it nearly sat him down. If he was hurt, he recovered well and landed a hard hook of his own that backed Tsarukyan off. Gamrot successfully took control of Tsarukyan’s back on the feet, where he dragged Tsarukyan to the ground momentarily. Tsarukyan ultimately escaped to the feet, where he attempted a takedown that Gamrot successfully sprawled on. They traded heavy hands towards the end of the round, with Tsarukyan landing one last body kick before time expired. 29-28 Tsarukyan.
Both men landed heavy shots to the head in the opening minute of round four, but their chins held up well. Tsarukyan landed a spinning backfist as Gamrot threw a leg kick, and it knocked Gamrot off balance. Tsarukyan followed him to the ground, but Gamrot quickly scrambled on top, before Tsarukyan returned to his feet. Gamrot powered through another kick to the body, securing a takedown in the process. Gamrot had Tsarukyan’s back, where he attempted to secure a rear-naked choke, however, Tsarukyan escaped before the end of the round. 39-37 Tsarukyan.
Gamrot began the final round with a heavy right hand. A leg kick from Tsarukyan knocked Gamrot to the ground, and he tagged Gamrot with a few shots on his way up. Gamrot defended a takedown attempt before the fighters exchanged right hands. Gamrot proceeded to bring Tsarukyan back to the ground, but Tsarukyan escaped to his feet yet again. Tsarukyan defended Gamrot’s next takedown attempt and began to march forward as the fighters traded hard shots. Gamrot took Tsarukyan down one last time before time expired, but it was Tsarukyan who ended the round on top after reversing the positioning. 48-47 Tsarukyan.
WINNER: Mateusz Gamrot by unanimous decision (48-47 all)
I was definitely a bit surprised by the result, but this was an extremely competitive fight. The grappling exchanges throughout this bout were about as high level as you will ever see in the sport of MMA, with both fighters showcasing elite takedown defense and scrambling ability. Gamrot seemed to just have a bit more gas left in the tank as the fight reached the later rounds, and that led to him finding a bit more success with his takedowns, although Tsarukyan was consistently able to return to his feet. Personally, I scored the fight for Tsarukyan, but clearly, the judges weighed his control time heavily, even though we have constantly been told that damage outweighs control time on the scoring criteria. In his post-fight interview, Gamrot called out Justin Gaethje.