Austin will host the UFC’s top contenders Beneil Dariush and Arman Tsarukyan.
On Saturday, UFC on ESPN 52 will bring the Ultimate Fighting Championship back to Austin for the fifth time. The main event will feature a matchup between competitors in one of the most prestigious mixed martial arts divisions.
Beneil Dariush and Arman Tsarukyan, two lightweight standouts, square off in the main event at Moody Center over five rounds, with the winner hoping to advance to the title fight.
The UFC has spent most of the last ten years focusing on the 155-pound class. The title has been held by well-known figures including Conor McGregor, Islam Makhachev at the moment, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Charles Oliveira.
The outcome of their fight will help one man get closer to the chance to compete for gold, and both Dariush and Tsarukyan are keen to join the ranks of legendary people.
“Finally I got a big fight, and I’m so excited,”” Tsarukyan exclaimed. “Hopefully after this, I’m going to be in top five, and I can talk about big fights and about a title fight.
This matchup is a story of two paths. Tsarukyan, 27, has demonstrated extraordinary skill since signing with the UFC in April 2019. He is currently ranked No. 13 in the most recent USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie lightweight rankings, having won seven of his last eight fights.
The more seasoned member of the duo, Dariush, 34, is ranked No. 5 overall. Although he appears to have the greatest drawbacks, he is motivated by his status as the underdog and eager to show that he can hold off the younger generation.
“If I win, I don’t think my ranking will change,” Dariush stated. “If I lose, I’m definitely going to get dropped quite a bit. But I’m an athlete who loves to compete, and I like to compete against the best people in the world. That’s what motivates me.”
In June 2022, Tsarukyan participated in a UFC main event fight, but the outcome did not go as planned. Mateusz Gamrot defeated him by a narrow and somewhat contentious unanimous decision. His only loss in the previous five years has been that one.
The fighter, an Armenian-Russian, claimed to have learned from the outcome and intended to showcase his development in a prominent position. The last five of his fights have taken place in the crowded Apex of the UFC in Las Vegas; the two fights prior to that took place in front of a small audience in Abu Dhabi during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This weekend, Tsarukyan will demonstrate his skills in front of a full arena for the first time in years.
“I always like to fight with the crowd, because it’s more fun,” Tsarukyan stated. “It gives me more energy. I’m so excited. With a crowd, it’s a different game.”
Similar thoughts about fighting in Austin were expressed by Dariush. The American, who was born in Iran, said that the energy from the fight-hungry crowd in Texas will motivate him to deliver a unique performance. He has competed there twice.
“”I love Texas” Dariush said. “I have a lot of friends here. I come here often. To be able to fight in Texas is great. … Something about Texas. I love the Southern hospitality. I love the way people treat each other. I’m looking forward to fighting in front of the fans.”