Arman Tsarukyan and Beneil Dariush will go toe-to-toe this weekend at UFC on ESPN 52 in Austin, Texas.
It’s a battle between two ranked lightweight fighters with Dariush (#4) set to defend his spot in the rankings against Tsarukyan (#8) in the five-round main event.
Read on for the latest Dariush vs. Tsarukyan betting odds and our full staff predictions, fight breakdown and analysis right here.
Tsarukyan vs. Dariush betting odds
The opening odds for the UFC on ESPN 52 main event were close to even but have moved dramatically in favor of Tsarukyan. In less than a month, Dariush has shifted from -120 to +240.
Tsarukyan vs. Dariush predictions
Check out our Tsarukyan vs. Dariush staff predictions ahead of the UFC on ESPN 52 main event.
Arman Tsarukyan is an orthodox fighter who stands 5’7 and whose reach spans 72 inches. He comes from a wrestling background with a Russian Master of Sport distinction in freestyle wrestling. Beniel Dariush is a jiu jitsu grappler by trade having won the 2010 NoGi worlds as a brown belt. He stands 5’10 with a reach of 72 inches equal to Tsarukyan. He stands in the southpaw stance.
Although Dariush is the more experienced fighter in the UFC itself, it is Tsarukyan who has fought the only five round fight between them. That being said, Tsarukyan also showed that he is the most dangerous when he is fresh, and even though he can go a hard five there is a difference in his output by that point. Dariush should be able to capitalize on this is a veteran on the highest level.
Most fighters look to avoid the ground with Dariush and force him to strike. This is by no means a way of saying he is not dangerous on the feet, and he carries an almost nonchalant power behind his punches that catch opponents off guard. However he is not the fastest striker nor the most fluid, he is awkward in his way to break across the cage in barrages with long boxing combinations that come at odd angles.
Tsarukyan however should be the quicker fighter, and because they stand in opposite stances, Tsarukyan’s favorite right body kick will be available. It’s important for Tsarukyan to work his kicks from the outside, and then feint and mix in the level changes when looking to come up and into punching range. Dipping and then coming over the top with strikes will force the potentially slower Dariush to react to everything he does.
Dariush has dissuaded many opponents from taking him down with the threat of his BJJ abilities but it’s more than likely that Tsarukyan returns to his wrestling base at some point especially if he cracked. He should have the advantage in terms of takedowns and controlling top positions, but Dariush’s skills will be most threatening in terms of opportunistic submissions, as he could catch a neck or limb the more tired Tsarukyan gets over time.
This is also the case in terms of taking the back. Dariush is especially good at getting to the back and working towards rear chokes. The scrambling ability of Tsarukyan will make this a very difficult goal early on in the fight but the more the two work the more likely the opportunities will come up later on.
That being said, the most likely scenario I do see is Tsarukyan getting the better of most exchanges on the feet. I think his ability to kick into his striking combinations, as well as mix up the threat of the takedown and scramble if taken down give him a wider breadth of success. Dariush is always a threat in terms of his ability to scramble and get a hold of something as they transition, or catch Tsarukyan with heavy hands, but the more focussed and disciplined Tarukysn comes in the more few and far between these opportunities should arise.
Pick: Arman Tsarukyan to win (-286 at BetUS)
Justifiably zealous, Arman “Ahalkalakets” Tsarukyan, 27, has a nearly perfect UFC record that includes 3 finish and 4 decision wins. Both of his UFC losses were close fights against the upper echelon on the division. Everything he’s done under the UFC banner has been impressive and he’s one or two fights away from a title shot and rematch against Makhachev.
Tsarukyan is a suffocating, explosive, and relentless wrestler who has the cardio to shoot and shoot several times in a fight. While his statistics may not illustrate just how dominate of a wrestler and grappler he is- only a 36% takedown success rate and only averaging 3.4 attempts per fight- what they don’t show is how lethal his style can be.
Tsarukyan’s takedown success rate is skewed below 50% because he went 7-21 in takedown attempts in his win over Ismagulov- a strong and stout defensive wrestler himself. Tsarukyan also went only 1-8 in his loss to Gamrot. But, looking back at the fight, that matchup was so explosive and evenly matched that both men were able to continually stuff and scramble their way to a fight of the year caliber wrestling match.
In both fights, Tsarukyan’s numbers were uninspiring but his performance in the cage was awe-inspiring. His ability to push an extreme pace, shoot his own takedowns and scramble out of shots from his opponent all while landing big shots on the feet is truly special.
Perpetually underappreciated yet consistently successful, Beneil Dariush, 34, is looking to deter the rising star of Tsarukyan while putting himself forward as a legitimate title contender. Dariush, a southpaw striker with deceptive power, tends to fight with a versatile skillset that he combines fluidly with few tells to his opponent of what is coming.
He is a strong and stout wrestler with a legitimate submission game from top position. He’s comfortable on the feet with a reliable body kick and thudding overhand left. His striking isn’t explosive or athletic but it’s well-timed and precise. Most of Dariush’s game is rooted in selecting the right attack at the right time. He rarely has wasted movement, rarely gets caught out of position, and rarely makes a mistake.
However, when he does make a mistake and get clipped, his chin has proved unreliable. Granted Dariush hasn’t been finished since 2018, but in fights against pressure heavy and athletic strikers, Dariush struggles to keep up with the speed and pressure resulting in getting clipped and knocked out twice. His game is most successful when he can lull opponents into his pace, keep them at his space, and implement his grappling game. But, when he’s forced on his back foot and pressured, Dariush can struggle.
Stylistically, the x-factor in this fight is Dariush’s defensive awareness, or lack thereof. He is hittable, especially early in fights and his chin has been tested and rocked several times. Against a far more explosive and dangerous striker in Tsarukyan, I expect Dariush to get clipped again. Then, in the grappling department, while Dariush may be able to survive from his back, I do not expect him to be able to reverse position or get top position himself. He is a potent wrestler and strong submission fighter when on top; I just don’t think he has the athleticism to get Tsarukyan with any consistency.
On top of that, outside of identifiable traits, I like betting on fighters who can be “special” and I see Tsarukyan as the only fighter who can be “special” in this fight. That might be under evaluating Dariush, but he’s never done anything in the cage that wowed me. His last win, a respectable one over Gamrot, came largely because he intelligently played keep away on the outside. Beyond that, he’s beaten an over-the-road Tony, an over-the-road Ferreira, and a grouping of low ranked or unranked fighters. He just doesn’t have the special that Tsarukyan has.
Best Bet: Tsarukyan to win inside the distance (+110 at BetUS)
Arman Tsarukyan is one of the best fighters in the lightweight division, yet, is relatively unknown by the casual MMA fan.
Early in his career, Arman fought Islam Makhachev to his most difficult fight not named Alexander Volkanovski. While a close loss to Islam should warrant stardom, at the time, Islam was not the star he is today. Fast-forward a few years, Arman was on top 5 contending status but fell victim to a close decision loss to Mateusz Gamrot in one of the fights of the year. Outside of these two close defeats, Arman has had little blunders in his fight career, thus making him truly an elite title-contending prospect.
The particulars of his fight skills are a high-level blend of lighting-quick striking with extremely talented wrestling. This combination allows him to be comfortable wherever the fight goes, and because his wrestling and striking are extremely high-level, often, he can dictate where the fight is contrary to following the lead of his opponent.
These extremely favorable points of analysis afforded to Arman are backed by the significant line movement in this fight, where the look-ahead spot opened near pick-em but has soared to making Arman a big favorite. While I believe he should indeed be a favorite, doubters will point to a close loss to Gamrot and being rocked by a lesser challenger in Silva in his last fight as two recent data points to back the always-dangerous Beneil Dariush.
Where Arman may be relatively unknown by the casuals, Beneil Dariush is one of the most underrated, underappreciated fighters on the UFC roster. His old-age look parlayed with a grappling-heavy, non-electrifying style perhaps explains the underappreciated nature of his game, but Beneil managed to climb the ranks of one of the toughest divisions in the UFC and was one win away from fighting for the undisputed championship.
The way Beneil climbed the ranks began with utilizing technical grappling to methodically work his way to ground finishes or controlled decision victories. As he climbed the ranks, his skills expanded and confidence grew, particularly with his striking.
Standing southpaw, Dariush has a keen ability to land a left hand and/or body kick, each having underrated power. The ability to find success on the feet expands his grappling ability, making him a well-rounded fighter.
While Dariush too is well-rounded, the speed, both with striking and grappling entries, are a concern in this fight. We saw his speed deficiency come to light against Charles Oliveria, as Oliveria’s quick striking proved to be far too much for Dariush to handle. If he doesn’t find a fix to the speed deficiency issue against elite opponents, he will find trouble here, but, if he learns from his last fight, then Beneil can find another career upset of his and re-enter title contention.
When this fight was announced, I expected Arman to close between -160 and -190, with anything in that range making him bet-able at a single, non-method play. I had confidence in laying a heavy price because where Beneil can look to implement the Gamrot gameplan, I do not believe he has the scrambling ability that was instrumental in the Gamrot victory and I, personally, scored the fight for Arman. Moreover, I believe the speed of Arman, particularly the speed of his strikes, will simply be too much for Beneil to handle.
Because the price has now reached near -300, I am electing to go Arman by TKO/KO here. The talented submission game of Dariush should prevent that path the victory for Arman, and because I believe the speed advantage is the critical component to the fight, I am choosing to trust that speed will translate to a KO finish.
Bet: Arman by KO (+140 at BetUS)