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UFC Vegas 66 results: Arman Tsarukyan outworks Damir Ismagulov for decision win

UFC Fight Night: Tsarukyan v Giagos Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Arman Tsarukyan displayed a relentless grappling attack to stifle Damir Ismagulov for the better part of 15 minutes to earn a win in the UFC Vegas 66 co-main event.

From the start of the fight until it was over, Tsarukyan looked for takedowns and tried to drag Ismagulov to the canvas. While Ismagulov did an admirable job resisting on the ground or getting back to his feet, he just couldn’t produce much offense of his own.

That resulted in a shutout, with all three judges scoring the fight 30-27 for Tsarukyan.

“Today I showed my 50 percent,” Tsarukyan said following the win. “I want to say I beat now a guy who had a 19-fight winning streak. He’s the toughest opponent. He’s tougher than someone in the top five. Nobody wants to fight with him, nobody wants to fight with me.

“Hopefully, I’ll get top five and next fight is going to be a big fight.”

It was Tsarukyan who looked to close the distance early and turn to his grappling while taking Ismagulov to the ground. Ismagulov showed incredible balance in the opening round, resisting Tsarukyan’s wrestling and actually falling into the mount during a reversal as the lightweights tumbled to the floor.

The fight quickly worked back to the feet but Tsarukyan was relentless in his pursuit as he continued charging forward while attempting to drag the fight down to the ground. In return, Ismagulov displayed great defense, but he just couldn’t break free of Tsarukyan’s grasp as he was constantly fighting off takedown attempts.

With less than three minutes remaining in the second round, Tsarukyan was finally able to secure a more dominant position as he took the back and looked to apply the rear-naked choke, but Ismagulov refused to let him actually lock on the submission.

Tsarukyan stuck with that same game plan as he continued giving Ismagulov headaches by finding his way inside and then dragging him to the ground. Each time, Ismagulov found a way to break free and work back to his feet, but he was still stuck in cement with Tsarukyan bullying him around the cage.

As time ran out in the third round, Tsarukyan took the back yet again with hopes of finishing the fight, but Ismagulov was resilient enough to resist until the final horn.

While it may not end up as his most memorable performance, Tsarukyan was still able to outwork Ismagulov over and over again to get the victory, with hopes that he’ll earn even bigger fights in the new year including a potential rematch with the reigning UFC lightweight champion.

“My goal is to do a rematch with Islam Makhachev,” Tsarukyan said. “I gave him the toughest fight in the UFC. I need a big fight and I’ll get a title shot. Hopefully 2023 is going to be my year.”

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