The NFL’s opening weekend stole all the headlines this week as the UFC took a step back after an extremely successful afternoon at UFC Vegas 36, just shy of a fortnight ago. In that main event, Derek Brunson (23-7) dominated a labored Darren Till (18-4), earning himself a third-round submission victory over the Liverpool-born sharp-shooter. Another scouse was featured on the main card when Paddy “The Baddy” Pimblett (17-3) made his long-awaited octagon debut and finished his opponent Luigi Vendramini (9-3) with a vicious flurry of hooks before skyrocketing his brand overnight.
UFC Vegas 37 is a fully loaded card with 13 bouts currently scheduled to take place. At the top of the bill, the No. 6 ranked Anthony Smith (35-16) will be making his seventh headlining appearance, all consecutively since 2018. Standing across the cage from him will be the No. 11 ranked Ryan Spann (19-6), who will be making his first appearance as the headlining act.
Today we will be diving deeper into a lightweight bout between Arman Tsarukyan (16-2) and Christos Giagos (19-8) set to take place on Saturday night’s main card at UFC Vegas 37 in the Apex Arena.
UFC Vegas 37 Fighter Comparison
Arman Tsarukyan (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC)
Arman Tsarukyan is entering the UFC cage for the fifth time in his career and the second time in 2021 after defeating Matt Frevola (8-3) in an extremely short-notice fight via unanimous decision back in January at UFC 257 Mcgregor vs Poirier 2 in Abu Dhabi. His debut came back in 2019 against the rising contender Islam Machachev (20-1), losing via unanimous decision. Now riding a three-fight winning streak including earlier this year, Tsarukyan has also beaten Olivier Aubin-Mercer (13-5) and Davi Ramos (10-4) along the way.
Before entering the UFC, Tsarukyan spent almost his entire career jumping around local Russian MMA promotions and in 2017 defeated Takenori Sato (19-12-7) for the FEMFP lightweight championship. Tsarukyan’s current UFC run has fans very excited when thinking about how high his ceiling is. A true mixed martial artist who’s integrated every practice into his incredibly well-rounded game, Tsarukyan would truly be a tough outing for any ranked opponent outside the top five.
The 24-year old does the majority of his training out of Russia at Khabarovsk MMA, but he also features at the famous Tiger Muay Thai gym in Thailand where he works a lot of his striking. 15-1 in his last 16 bouts, a win on Saturday would be Tsarukyan’s fourth straight in the promotion and would surely warrant a top ten ranked opponent for the Russian-born fighter of Armenian descent.
Christos Giagos (19-8 MMA, 5-4 UFC)
Christos Giagos began his professional MMA journey in 2010 and for four years made his way around the California regional circuit before entering what was a pivotal year in Giagos’ career, 2014. For Giagos, it began in April when he finished Preston Scharf via doctor stoppage which earned him a shot at the vacant TPT lightweight championship. This was an opportunity Giagos literally and figuratively took by the neck, submitting Sevak Magakian (13-6-1) in the very first round via triangle choke to capture his first professional title.
Another title opportunity came Giagos’ way when he was offered Dakota Cocrane (17-5) for the inaugural lightweight championship under the RFA banner -that later merged with Legacy Fighting Championship to form the Legacy Fighting Alliance. In August of 2014, Giagos impressively finished Cocrane with a flying knee that really caught the eyes of the UFC brass.
Two months later Giagos would debut at UFC 179 against a very tough Gilbert Burns (20-4). On the night the Brazilian enjoyed home advantage and finished Giagos via submission with an armbar very late in the first round. The fighter of Greek descent would bounce back in his next outing, taking on another Brazilian in Jorge de Oliveira (9-5) again in the capital of Rio de Janeiro. The fight would again end in the first round due to a submission, but this time it was Giagos coming out on the winning end of things. In June of 2015, a second UFC loss in three total bouts saw the UFC subsequently release the fighter from his contract.
In the next three years, Giagos would amass a record of 4-2 before the UFC decided it was time for him to stake another stab at it inside the octagon. In familiar circumstances, Giagos would yet again find himself in Brazil, this time Sao Paulo as he was scheduled to take on current UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira (31-8) in September of 2018. Another fight ending in a submission that would go Oliveira’s way, Giagos would bounce back with two straight unanimous decision victories over Mizuto Hirota (18-11-2) and Damir Hadzovic (14-6) respectively which lead to a scheduled matchup with up and coming lightweight contender Drakkar Klose (11-2) who was able to best Giagos over 15 minutes of action in late 2019.
Competing only one time in 2020, Giagos was offered to face Carlton Minus (10-3) on short notice after Rick Glenn (22-6) was forced to withdraw. With only a few weeks of preparation, the Cali-born lightweight ground out a unanimous decision victory taking place on the very last card of the year. Giagos is most recently coming off an impressive comeback victory over rising contender Sean Soriano (14-7) on the prelims of UFC 262 Chandler vs Oliveira.
UFC Vegas 37 Preview & Prediction
Tsarukyan has a style that heavily relies on controlling his opponents against the fence. He looks to quickly change levels or use his trips to sit you on your back so he can tie up your legs and hands similar to the way Khabib Nurmagomedov use to overwhelm his opposition. His opponent, Christos Giagos was introduced to MMA through wrestling while in High School but quickly moved away from his grappling roots.
So far in his UFC career, his stand-up has seemed very one-dimensional yet he still throws with technique and conviction. In his last outing against Frevola, he was doing some good things defensively like circling out after throwing his combinations and occasionally getting his head off the centerline. However, there were definitely moments when Frevola would land heavy off of a jab or a cross once Tsarukyan planted his feet in between and after his striking combinations. This was because a lot of the time Tsarukyan would hesitate to react immediately after throwing his hands and Frevola was able to pick his shots at the right moments.
Giagos can take advantage of this by shooting takedowns of his own, which will more than likely not get Tsarukyan to the ground but it will bring another dimension of the game for the No. 14 ranked lightweight to think about. The big question looming over this fight is whether Giagos will be able to keep the fight on the feet or not. Giagos likes to begin his fights at a frenetic pace whereas Tsarukyan actively looks to keep his fights at a comfortable rhythm he can perform it with maximum capability.
Looking deep into the numbers, all the percentages are heavily in favor of Tsarukyan in terms of striking accuracy, striking defense, along with takedown accuracy, and defense all leaning the Armenians way. Combining this with fighting tougher competition and having an overall more impressive resume, I’m inclined to side with the youth on this particular occasion. Official Prediction: Tsarukyan via Submission