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UFC Fight Night: Dariush v Tsarukyan Predictions

Elite lightweights on a mission for gold go at it in the main event of UFC Austin as Beneil Dariush battles Arman Tsarukyan on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.


Elite lightweights on a mission for gold go at it in the main event of UFC Austin as Beneil Dariush battles Arman Tsarukyan on Saturday night (Sunday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

It’s a Texas-sized event at the Moody Center with a host of cracking clashes. Lightweights feature in the co-headliner as well with Bobby Green taking on Jalin Turner, while former flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo makes his bantamweight debut against Rob Font in the featured bout.

Sean Brady and Kelvin Gastelum battle it out in a clash between two of the best at 170 pounds, the legendary Clay Guida collides with Joaquim Silva at 155 pounds and Punahele Soriano squares off with Dustin Stoltzfus at 185 pounds.

MAIN CARD (from 2 AM Sunday SA time):

Beneil Dariush (3.45) v Arman Tsarukyan (1.32) (Lightweight)

Fourth-ranked Dariush (22-5-1) was the hottest lightweight aside from champion Islam Makhachev heading into his last fight against Charles Oliveira in May.

On an excellent eight-fight win streak, victory would’ve seen him punch his ticket to a title fight. Instead, he was stopped by the former 155-pound king in short order, bringing the momentum he’d built over more than four years to a grinding halt.

It happens in fighting. Especially in mixed martial arts. Fortunes can change on a dime. What’s important, and what separates the great from the good, is how they bounce back from such a setback. Both physically and mentally, “Benny” has what it takes to get back on track, but whether he will, is questionable due to the calibre of his opponent.

Composed and well-rounded, Dariush is a calculated fighter with the heart of a lion. He’s comfortable everywhere (five knockouts and eight submissions) but was caught in the striking department by Oliveira. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, he has great grappling and takedown defence. 

Eighth-ranked Tsarukyan (20-3) has momentum on his side having won two tilts in a row against Damir Ismagulov (by decision) and Joaquim Silva (by TKO).

Somewhat of a silent assassin, he’s steadily made his way up the food chain and has been on the cusp of breaking into the very top of the division. His UFC record speaks to this; he’s an impressive 7-2 inside the Octagon with his only losses coming to current champion Makhachev (decision) and Mateusz Gamrot (a razor-close decision).

He, too, is well-rounded (eight knockouts and five submissions). Powerful, relentless grappling is a big part of his game and while he won’t necessarily veer from that, I do expect him to go to his striking more in this fight as he’s the crisper and more powerful striker of the two. That, and Dariush has been hittable throughout his career, with four of his five losses coming by knockout. 

Dariush’s conditioning is always top-class, but Tsarukyan is known for outworking his opponents and as the younger man by seven years, his speed, superior output and stamina should allow him to pull away if the fight goes long. Either way, it’s Tsarukyan’s time and he’ll turn back Dariush to claim the breakout win he’s been searching for.  

Prediction: Tsarukyan by decision.

Best Bet: Tsarukyan at 1.32.

Alternative Bet: Tsarukyan by decision at 3.00 or over 3.5 rounds at 1.71.

Jalin Turner (1.45) v Bobby Green (2.80) (Lightweight)

Green (31-14-1) was originally set to face fellow dog of war Dan Hooker in a rare five-round co-main event, but the New Zealander was forced out of the fight through injury last week. Turner (13-7) tags in and due to it being on such short notice, it’ll now be a three-round fight.

Turner dropped a razor-thin split decision to Hooker in his last fight, his second such a close loss after suffering the same fate against Mateusz Gamrot. Prior to that, “The Tarantula” weaved a wicked web of five straight stoppage wins to take his overall tally to nine knockouts and four submissions.

On top of being versatile, No. 12-ranked Turner is massive for the weight class. Standing 6’3” and boasting a 77-inch reach, he’s a unique threat in the 155-pound division and will tower over the 5’9” Green.

Green is near the end of his career but showed he still has fight and surprises left in him. After choking out former interim champion Tony Ferguson, he cashed as the underdog with a big 33-second knockout win over Grant Dawson last time out, his 20th career finish (11 knockouts and nine submissions).

Having had the benefit of a full fight camp, 13th-ranked “King” is not a bad shout to upset the applecart again, especially considering it’ll be a tough weight cut for his opponent. He has plenty of X-factor and power in spades.

That said, he’s less polished than his opponent and not as fast or athletic. Turner has only lost to the cream of the crop and looks to be a level above Green in the skills department, so I see him swooping in and securing the victory.

Prediction: Turner by decision.

Best Bet: Turner at 1.45.

Alternative Bet: Turner by decision at 3.50.

Rob Font (1.64) v Deiveson Figueiredo (2.30) (Bantamweight)

Eighth-ranked Font (20-7) welcomes former flyweight king Figueiredo (21-3-1) to the bantamweight division in an ultra-compelling clash.

Figueiredo was a beast at 125 pounds, a terrifying tank with feared knockout power, but it remains to be seen how he adjusts to fighting bigger and stronger men at 135.

Not having to deplete himself will make for a healthier Figueiredo but at 5’5″, he gives up three inches in height and will have to overcome a three-and-a-half-inch reach disadvantage.

Skill-wise, “Deus da Guerra” can do it all and boasts 17 finishes (nine knockouts and eight submissions). Turning 36 in a few weeks, he’s 1-2-1 in his last four and eager to re-invent himself at bantamweight.

Font, who’s best known for his crisp boxing, is a staple in the division’s top 10. While he’s 1-3 in his last four, he’s an extremely tough first test for Figueiredo as he’s not only well-rounded (nine knockouts and four submissions) but super durable as well.

It should be a competitive fight, but in Font, Figueiredo has bit off a bit more than he can chew.

Prediction: Font by decision.

Best Bet: Font at 1.64.

Alternative Bet: Font by decision 2.75.

Sean Brady (1.84) v Kelvin Gastelum (1.98) (Welterweight)

Both men are making comebacks of sorts. Brady (15-1) returns to competition for the first time since suffering his first career defeat at the hands of Belal Muhammad over a year ago, while Gastelum (18-8) returns to the welterweight division for the first time since 2016.

The first question is will Gastelum make weight? Struggles on the scale are what forced his move to middleweight where he had success early on and put on an all-time classic war against Israel Adesanya for the interim title in 2019 but only won two of his last seven.

A southpaw with a sound one-two, strong wrestling, a warrior spirit and a granite chin, Gastelum has never been knocked out and has only been submitted twice, so his opponents know they have to pack a lunch.

Ranked ninth, Brady has looked the business since arriving in the UFC in 2019, rattling off five wins in a row highlighted by a decision victory of Michael Chiesa before having his undefeated streak snapped by Muhammad.

He has solid striking, but his biggest strengths are his wrestling and conditioning. With Brady having battled myriad injuries over the last year and Gastelum having good takedown defence, the latter should make a successful return to the 170-pound ranks.

Prediction: Gastelum by decision.

Best Bet: Gastelum at 1.98.

Alternative Bet: Gastelum by decision at 3.75.

Clay Guida (3.60) v Joaquim Silva (1.30) (Lightweight)

It’s always a treat to watch Guida (38-23) do his thing inside the Octagon. He’s an OG, a legend and an absolute madman. He’s the Tasmanian Devil cartoon character come to life as he whips up a storm of non-stop offense.

Even at 41, “The Carpenter” is still a ball of energy, albeit a few paces slower than the lightning bolt he was in his prime. Coming off a loss to Rafa Garcia, he’s alternated results in his last six outings.

Silva (12-4) started his UFC career with three straight wins and has dropped to four of six since. He stepped up on short notice to face Tsarukyan last time out and hurt the headliner in the second round before getting finished in the third.

“Netto BJJ” is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt but his advantage in this fight is on the feet. The 34-year-old has the edge in power and output, so he’ll look to keep it standing where he’s poised to output Guida.

Prediction: Silva by decision.

Best Bet: Silva by decision at 3.25.

Alternative Bet: Fight to go the distance at 2.30.

Punahele Soriano (1.32) v Dustin Stoltzfus (3.45) (Middleweight)

The main card gets underway with a dance of two desperate middleweights looking to get their careers back on track.

Soriano (9-3) is a strong wrestler with power in his hands (six knockouts). There’s little subtlety to his game; he’s a forward-marching marauder who bludgeons his opponents.

Stoltzfus (14-5) is a more layered martial artist and will have an advantage on the ground if he can get it there. However, as the better, stronger athlete, Soriano will walk Stoltzfus down, stuff his takedowns and get back in the win column in a big way.

Prediction: Soriano by knockout.

Best Bet: Soriano by KO/TKO/DQ at 1.95.  

Alternative Bet: Under 2.5 rounds at 1.64.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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