The UFC is officially back with two shows so far in 2020 under their proverbial MMA championship belt and we are just days away from UFC 257 headlined by a #1 contender fight between the Notorious Conor McGregor vs Dustin The DIamond Poirier.
TWO MORE DAYS.
— UFC (@ufc) January 21, 2021
My mind didn’t even have time to recover and there was another show in just a few days. This was after seeing one of the best performances of all time put in by Max Blessed Holloway when he broke his own records for output and strikes landed.
I am a huge believer in Conor McGregor and I was honest telling myself this past Saturday night that this particular Max Holloway would beat him. I ran it by a few friends and most of them actually agreed with me.
That was really special what Holloway was able to do. I’m not sure if this was on purpose.
— UFC (@ufc) January 16, 2021
Max doesn’t seem like the type but then again…
If you read my predictions on this past Saturday’s main event then you know I was one of those who got it all wrong. I thought Kattar was a live dog at the (+155) price tag we got him at and he was even as low as (+125) for that fight so we were out ahead of the line movement but that’s where it ended.
So, I didn’t think he was the type to throw as many kicks and elbows as he did. There were some knees tossed in there as well. It was like he evolved 6 years in just 6 months. I will take that one on the chin.
I think there is surely more to it than just making the excuse of-Oh, well he looked better than ever so we couldn’t have seen that coming. When you’re getting Max Holloway anywhere close to even money against a guy knocking on the door of the top 5, you should probably take it.
So, you lost out on the Volkanovski fights? That’s fine. The second was razor close and you won most all of the others. The only two other guys to handle Max are fighting in a #1 contender bout for the Lightweight strap in the main event this weekend at UFC 257.
I’m very curious what is next for Max Holloway but let’s focus our efforts today on a matchup of two very bright young stars with names that make my fingers hurt, Germany’s Nasrat Haqparast and Armenia’s Arman Tsarukyen.
For all intents and purposes, we will be referring to the underdog, Haqparast, simply as Nas because who doesn’t like a good 90s hip hop reference, right? And for Tsarukyen, “Horyuken!” might be the most fun but I suppose Arman isn’t so bad.
I have been following Arman’s career ever since he gave Islam Machachev a great fight in his UFC debut at the age of just 22! The UFC had to know they had a talent on their hands with Arman but that’s the difference between boxing and mixed martial arts. Organizations like the UFC will have you walking through multiple fires on your way to your first 20 wins.
Many times, boxers get to 20-0 with mostly slam dunks. That doesn’t happen very much in MMA and you’ll never see it go down like that in the UFC.
I heard the legendary boxing trainer Teddy Atlas talking about this concept the other day.
Look, many great boxers leave development on the table because they aren’t getting enough challenging fights while they’re still in the skill and particularly, application of that skill, stage of their career.
There are, though, some fighters who are just that much better than everyone else so finding a challenge for them can be difficult. I love this fight between Arman and Nas. They are both highly touted European powerhouses who will likely be top 15 if not top 10 fighters for the organization for quite some time.
Let’s get to the meat and taters and make a prediction on this exciting UFC 257 Fight Island scrap.
BetOnline.AG once again has the best available betting odds for not just this fight but all of the matchups at UFC 257.
Arman Tsarukyan (-285) vs Nasrat Haqparast (+245)
The favorite should be the favorite but I don’t know about this betting line. If Arman uses his wrestling, I can understand the odds but I can’t get behind the Armenian at nearly 3 to 1 against another high level striker.
Nas is also a very young fighter at just 25 years old and has a professional mixed martial arts record of 12-3. He got his start as a teenager on the German regional scene and actually lost his first pro fight.
— Nasrat Haqparast (@Nasrat_mma) January 11, 2021
After that, though, he rattled off 7 consecutive stoppage victories which garnered the attention of the UFC talent team and he was signed up to fight Marcin Held in his debut. The Polish grappler was a tough test for the young flashy German striker and Nas came up short.
It was 30-27 on all three judges’ scorecards for the Pole and get this, Marcin has yet to lose an MMA fight since. He lost his first three fights inside the Octagon then laid and prayed his way to a win over Nas.
The company cut him and he has since defeated an 18-5 Russian along with two UFC vets.
Nas bounced back with Illmatic, I mean a win over Marc Diakese which was impressive because he out struck a very capable, powerful, and athletic striker but it still didn’t prove he could defend the takedown from a high level grappler.
His next fight was a win over Thibault Gouti who is not a high level striker or grappler and then against a 1-loss fighter in Joaquim Silva. This was a solid win and an early 2nd round TKO, although Joaquim did not attempt a takedown.
The jury remained in their chamber on his wrestling. Drew Dober was next and Nas had really swayed the sportsbooks with his win over Silva as they had him as high as a (-350) favorite against the lightning fast and hard-hitting Dober.
On the map 🌍
🇩🇪 @Nasrat_MMA is here to make you learn the name!
— UFC (@ufc) January 21, 2021
Even the halfway disconnected from MMA, Joe Rogan, immediately noticed the discrepancy in the betting line and said, hey this is way off. Drew Dober is a good fighter and this should be closer to a pick’em.
That was about the time that Drew dropped and finished off the careless Nas with a counter right hand. The UFC likes Nas and he comes from a massive market in Deutschland that is relatively untapped.
An MMA star who is also a knockout artist would be great to build up the popularity and, of course, bump up those increasingly expensive pay per view buys.
They gave him a good wrestler but a guy who was essentially a coach. Alex Munoz was a former Oklahoma State wrestler like Daniel Cormier and the wrestling coach at Team Alpha Male.
That is quite the resume against a European striker but Nas looked as good as ever on the feet and his takedown defense shined allowing just 1 on 8 attempts from Munoz to get the fight to the mat.
Munoz appeared to be more of a wrestling coach than a fighter in that matchup but to his credit, he still went the distance with a dangerous fighter like Nas so props to him.
It isn’t that simple. Munoz didn’t have near the level of striking to make Nas uncomfortable at all and that changes everything in MMA. Key acronym here-MMA. I think Arman is a better MMA fighter at this point in his career than Haqparast.
The German is still very dangerous in this fight but Tsaru fights so intelligently. He will press the German up against the cage at will, in my opinion.
Nas will be three inches taller but their reach of 72 inches matches up and that actually favors the shorter fighter because they can come over the top and the taller guy cannot without compromising his defense.
If Nas was a distance fighter who used his jab more often than his power punches, I might favor him to keep Tsaru on the outside and use the large Octagon to move around. Haq is coming out of a great camp with an excellent game planner as his head coach in the former head coach of Georges St Pierre, Firas Zahabi.
I just think the seamless MMA transitions of Tsarukyan will eventually catch up to the German and he will give up a couple of takedowns and that should be the difference in the fight. I don’t believe that either fighter will be able to get the finish although it is certainly a possibility.
You can get either fighter to win by TKO for 5 to 1 or better but that seems like a trap. Sure, you could hit one of them but it isn’t likely. The sportsbooks feel like this is a fight that will likely play out on the fence and in half guard on the mat more than it will at distance or in the pocket with the two men striking.
The fight is (-200) to go to a decision and we can get the favorite to win said decision at close to even money. I don’t think that is the worst line I have ever seen.
These two can bang! Arman, who has always been known as a grappler, really showed off some highly improved striking skills in his last fight against Brazilian, Davi Ramos.
I give him a slight edge in the striking against Nas this Saturday night at UFC 257 and that is primarily because he has a wrestling threat that will have to be in the back of Nas’s mind because if it isn’t, he is sure to be sent to the mat if Arman wants to go there.
Saturday night’s card at UFC 257 is not one to be missed by fans and bettors alike. We can all learn a lot from this weekend, especially in the Lightweight Division which not only includes the main and co-main events but also Arman Tsarukyan and Nasrat Haqparast.
Get your bets in now and enjoy the scraps on Saturday night from Fight Island.