Tucker Lutz competes in Dana White's Contender Series (Zuffa LLC)

Yet another for the APEX, UFC Vegas 77 goes down this Saturday, July 15, and has a few interesting matchups hidden amongst the crowd, one of which is the featherweight bout between powerhouses Tucker Lutz and Melsik Baghdasaryan.

Don’t be fooled by both fighters coming off a loss; Lutz and Melsik are two intriguing prospects with a lot of upside and power that’ll make them a threat against most 145ers.

Betting Odds

Melsik is currently the favorite, though we’ve seen the line shift a bit toward Lutz over the week. The odds feel closer to a toss-up for me, but we’ll dig into the specifics and find the best bet:

  • Tucker Lutz: +120 (BetUS)
  • Melsik Baghdasaryan: -150 (BetUS)

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Fight Breakdown

Tucker Lutz is 12-3 and coming off back-to-back losses. He’s a well-built, well-rounded fighter with explosive striking and wrestling. His striking is surprisingly technical for someone of his size and power. He switches stances really well and uses these switches to land creative combos with his hands or digs thudding body kicks. He loves to switch southpaw before throwing the left straight while stepping back through to orthodox and following up with a left hook, right hand.

In his entries, he does hang his chin a bit high and can get a bit too far over his front foot, leaving him open to counters. His striking defense when his opponent goes first is my biggest worry for him; he doesn’t move his head off the center line side to side and will rely on ducking backwards. This leaves him susceptible to the overhand right or a right hand off a single/double jab and has gotten him rocked. He keeps a wide, deep stance that gives his opponent openings for the leg kick which was exploited effectively in his loss to Daniel Pineda.

Lutz uses his strength well in the wrestling department. He is almost guaranteed to get the takedown when he gets his hands locked and on the ground, he has very heavy top control. Like many wrestlers, he isn’t the best off his back as he doesn’t attack submissions to sweep his opponent or get up and was controlled by the better wrestler in Pat Sabatini.

Melsik Baghdasaryan is a former kickboxer with explosive striking. He has very quick, twitchy kicks with little wind up. He fights from Southpaw and utilizes the body kick to the open side against orthodox fighters very effectively. His left straight is equally quick with stopping power capable of ending a fight with one shot.

With his kickboxing and muay thai background, you may expect to see a higher output, but he uses a lot of feints and one-shot entries. He attacks openings in the defense and relies a lot on his speed to get to the spot before his opponent can defend. He mixes up his shots well across all three levels to open up more opportunities and looks to blast his opponent with every strike.

Melsik’s wrestling defense has stood the tests of his UFC opponents so far (excluding the awkward way Culibao got to his back to finish the fight by RNC). When he lets his hands go later in the first round and on, he can be a bit telegraphed and this leaves his hips vulnerable to opponents timing takedowns. He’s shown good defense and balance to keep himself on his feet but wrestlers will surely be looking to test him here.

Baghdasaryan’s defense on the feet also hasn’t been tested by someone who is willing to back Melsik up. He has great footwork and reactions to bounce back out of range and fire off tight, accurate counters. This base defense leaves him open for low kicks and Josh Culibao was able to exploit in the early parts of their fight. Melsik was able to make the adjustment to fire his left hand down the center to time the leg kick and make him pay.


The odds on this fight favor Melsik as a -165 favorite, but Lutz has a very capable path to victory. Melsik’s speed/power combination and awareness on the defensive side are the biggest advantages he’ll have. Lutz doesn’t move too well on the feet, especially when he’s on the back foot, and Melsik specializes at using feints, power and pressure to put his opponent on the retreat over the entirety of the fight. Lutz surely holds the advantage in the wrestling department and could force Melsik into clinches where he can use his physical strength and frame to get it to the mat and wear on Baghdasaryan.

Tucker Lutz is coming off a bad loss to Daniel Pineda, where a lot of the holes in his game were exploited, while Melsik’s last fight was going well for him before slipping and getting choked out. Melsik as a southpaw with his great body kicks and powerful hands deserves to be the favorite but Tucker Lutz has a great chance to pull off the upset as he has slick combinations that he can throw while feinting a retreat.

With Melsik’s power and pressure, it doesn’t feel like Lutz will have a lot of opportunities to shoot for takedowns as he’ll likely spend a lot of time with his back to the cage. When he’s been here in the past, he looks much more uncomfortable and Melsik is very good at using his footwork to stay in front of his opponent and land shots to the head and body.

My official prediction is Melsik to win on the moneyline, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see this line move closer to even before the two square off on Saturday evening. Right now, Tucker Lutz has +325 odds to win by decision which is great value as I see him winning 4 out of 10 matchups against Melsik.

  • Prediction: Melsik Baghdasaryan ML (-150)
  • Best Bet: Tucker Lutz by Decision (+325)

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