Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to ESPN+ later TONIGHT (Sat., Dec. 2, 2023) to stage UFC Austin live from inside Moody Center in Austin, Texas. Headlining the event will be a Lightweight bout between top contenders Beneil Dariush and Arman Tsarukyan. In the co-main event, Bobby Green will face off against Jalin Turner.
Arman Tsarukyan’s first-fight inside the Octagon came against current Lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev, back in 2019. Of course, at the time Makhachev wasn’t the pound-for-pound best fighter in the game that he is now, but he had already shown he was going to be a force to be reckoned with. Nevertheless, Tsarukyan took him the distance and came up short on the judges scorecards. Since then he has gone 7-1 and is now getting the chance to headline his second UFC event. Currently ranked No. 8, Tsarukyan is out to make a case for the Top 5 if he can get a win over Beneil Dariush instead of picking fights in hotels against Bobby Green.
As for Dariush, he is currently a part of the cream of the crop at 155 pounds and is holding down the No. 4 spot in the pecking order. He was one more win away from fighting for his first-ever UFC title before he was stopped via strikes by Charles Oliveira at UFC 289 earlier this year. The loss snapped his seven-fight win streak, but it didn’t take him out of The Top 5, so he isn’t too far off for title consideration if he gets back on track, starting with Tsarukyan, who boasts an impressive 20-3 record. Neither man is a specialist in any area, but Tsarukyan has eight knockouts to Dariush’s five. On the flip side of that coin, Dariush has eight submissions to Tsarukyan’s five, so both men have shown they can get the job done in more ways than one. The winner will take a huge leap toward his respective championship aspirations.
It’s not really a complaint, but there are a ton of options for your combat craving tonight because aside from the UFC Austin event, BKFC 56 is going down, as well, which features two former UFC stars in Mike Perry and Eddie Alvarez going at it. Down the street from Austin, Ryan Garcia returns to action to face off against Oscar Duarte in Houston, Texas. That means fight fans will have to decide what they want to tune into live, which isn’t a bad problem to have. Decision, decisions.
Original Card vs. Actual Card:
Azamat Murzakanov came down with a bad case of pneumonia and was subsequently forced out of his fight against Khalil Rountree. In turn, Anthony Smith was pegged as his replacement but the fight will take place next week at UFC Vegas 83 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Furthermore, Steve Garcia fell ill a few days away from fight night and was forced out of his scheduled bout against Melquizael Costa, which was set to go down on the undercard in the Featherweight division.
The main event was set to feature Dan Hooker opposite Tsarukyan before “Hangman” was forced out after breaking his arm a second time. Also, Jared Cannonier suffered a torn ACL that forced him out of his scheduled Middleweight bout against Roman Dolidze. The promotion opted to take Dolidze off the card, and he will now face Nassourdine Imavov on Feb. 3, 2024.
After making his pro MMA debut in 2021, Zachary Reese now has his shot in the big leagues. “Savage” punched his ticket via the Contender Series, and brings with him a 6-0 record, all first-round finishes. If he can provide those types of finishes inside the Octagon he could be on the fast track for a fast ascension in the Middleweight debut. He will face off against Cody Brundage, who recently snapped his three-fight skid by defeating Jacob Malkoun two months ago.
Rodolfo Bellato came up short in his first fight on the Contender Series back in Sept. 2022, dashing his hopes of getting the call up. But that was just a brief hiccup because after winning two straights fights under the Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) organization he got another shot and went on to knockout Murtaza Talha Ali this past October to get a shot under the UFC banner. His first challenge will come against Ihor Potieria, who is just 1-2 so far inside the Octagon with his lone win coming against a past-his-prime Mauricio Rua earlier this year.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The undercard will feature Miesha Tate’s potential farewell fight. “Cupcake” wouldn’t commit to retirement but did tease the possibility ahead of her collision against Julia Avila. It’s been a rough stretch from Tate after making her return in July 2021. She did defeat Marion Reneau via TKO in her first fight after her first retirement, but went on to lose to Ketlen Vieira, and then to Lauren Murphy in her Flyweight debut. But she is back to her true weight class of 135 pounds. As for Avila, she will make her return after sitting on the sidelines for the last 16 months, though she is coming off a submission win over Julija Stoliarenko.
In the Lightweight division, Drakkar Klose will attempt to win his third straight fight when he goes toe-to-toe against Joe Solecki, who is also coming in with a two-fight win streak under the UFC banner. Both men are 5-1 in their last six fights inside the Octagon, so the winner here takes a huge leap up the 155-pound ladder.
Veronica Hardy has been absolutely dreadful so far in her UFC tenure, going just 2-4. She is coming off a win over Juliana Miller, but getting a second straight victory when she goes up against Jamey-Lyn Worth — who is undefeated at 6-0, 1-0 UFC — will not only help her confidence, but allow her to fight another day inside the Octagon.
In the Welterweight division, Jared Gooden will look to earn a trip back to the winner’s circle after losing to Carlston Harris earlier this year when he takes on Wellington Turman. Speaking of which, Turman needs a win pretty badly here because he has lost two in a row and is just a dreadful 3-6 under the UFC banner.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Dustin Stoltzfus has seen better days. The scrappy 185-pounder is just 1-4 in his last five fights inside the Octagon, which includes his most recent defeat at the hands of Abus Magomedov over a year ago. He’s been out for a bit so ring rust could play a factor in his performance. And if he doesn’t perform well enough to get a win, he could find himself on thin ice should he lose his fifth fight in six tries when he battles Punahele Soriano in the opening fight of the main card. Speaking of which, Soriano could also be on the chopping block because he is just 1-3 in his last four fights and is coming off a TKO defeat at the hands of Roman Kopylov. In pro wrestling terms, this could very well be a “loser leaves town match.”
Interest Level: 7.0/10
This is actually a pretty decent card that boasts six fights on the main card. The co-main event will see Bobby Green face off against late replacement, Jalin Turner. Prior to the fight, Green was called out by Paddy Pimblett (for whatever reason) for a fight at UFC 300. The thing about it is, both Pimblett have opponents lined up as “The Baddy” is set to face Tony Ferguson at UFC 296. For now, Green needs to focus on the task at hand, and that is Turner, who looks to shock “King” with an upset win. Turner is currently on a two-fight losing streak, so he needs in win pretty badly here, though I doubt the promotion will cut him with another loss since he is doing UFC a solid here.
After losing the Flyweight title to Brandon Moreno a second time at UFC 283, Deiveson Figueiredo will make his Bantamweight debut against against Rob Font. Figueiredo should feel right at home at 135 pounds because he does cut a lot of weight to hit 125. He missed weight only once, and he is usually the bigger man at Flyweight. Font won’t have a size advantage here, and the power should translate well for “Daico,” who pucks a nice punch. Font, meanwhile, has had a rough go as of late, losing three of four fights including his most recent defeat at the hands of Cory Sandhagen. Font loves to stand and bang, so this fight has the potential to win a post-fight bonus award.
After over a year away from action as a result of injury, Sean Brady will look to make a triumphant return to action when he battles Kelvin Gastelum in a pivotal Welterweight affair. Brady hasn’t competed since losing to Belal Muhammad at UFC 280, the first loss of his career after starting things off 15-0. He was on the fast track to title contention before he was stopped by “Remember The Name,” so now he is hoping a win over former title challenger in Gastelum will help him get back in the mix. As for Gastelum, he ended his two-fight skid be defeating Chris Curtis at UFC 287. Prior to that, he had lost five of six bouts, so he still needs a win here to get some more of that momentum that had him as a legit contender at both 185 and 170 pounds.
UFC’s iron man Clay Guida will return for fight number 36 inside the Octagon. And while he hasn’t been the most consistent fighter over the last few years — going 3-3 since 2021 — at 41 years of age “The Carpenter” is still as energetic as ever and brings the fight each time out. He will battle Joaquim Silva, who is just 1-3 in his last four outings and is coming off a loss at the hands of event headliner, Arman Tsarukyan.
Enjoy the fights!
Full UFC Austin Fight Card:
UFC Austin Main Event On ESPN/ESPN+:
155 lbs.: Beneil Dariush vs. Arman Tsarukyan
UFC Austin Main Card On ESPN/ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Bobby Green vs. Jalin Turner (not Dan Hooker)
135 lbs.: Rob Font vs. Deiveson Figueiredo
170 lbs.: Sean Brady vs. Kelvin Gastelum
155 lbs.: Clay Guida vs. Joaquim Silva
185 lbs.: Punahele Soriano vs. Dustin Stoltzfus
UFC Austin ‘Prelims’ Card On ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Miesha Tate vs. Julia Avila
185 lbs.: Cody Brundage vs. Zachary Reese
155 lbs.: Drakkar Klose vs. Joe Solecki
145 lbs.: Melquizael Costa vs. Steve Garcia –CANCELED!
205 lbs.: Rodolfo Bellato vs. Ihor Potieria
170 lbs.: Jared Gooden vs. Wellington Turman
125 lbs.: Veronica Hardy vs. Jamey-Lyn Horth
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change.*
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Austin fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
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