- What: UFC on ESPN 52
- Who: Beneil Dariush vs. Arman Tsarukyan
- Date: Saturday, December 2, 2023
- Location: Moody Center in Austin, Texas
- Time: Prelims (4:00 p.m. ET) Main Card (7:00 p.m. ET)
- How to Watch: Prelims: ESPN+, Main Card: ESPN
The top of the UFC’s lightweight division could get some new blood on Saturday when veteran 155-pounder Beneil Dariush faces rising star Arman Tsarukyan in the main event of UFC on ESPN 52, which takes place at the Moody Center in Austin, TX. Here is some information on Dariush and Tsarukyan before we discuss the betting breakdown for the UFC on ESPN 52 fight card.
Beneil Dariush (22-5-1) was riding an eight-winning streak heading into his UFC 289 matchup against former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira. Oliveira won that fight by first-round TKO and parlayed that victory into a title fight rematch with Islam Makhachev, which Oliveira was forced to withdraw from. The loss was Dariush’s first since a March 2018 knockout setback to Alexander Hernandez. Dariush enters UFC on ESPN 52 as the No. 4 fighter in the official UFC lightweight rankings.
Arman Tsarukyan (20-3) is on a two-fight winning streak heading into UFC on ESPN 52. He has an overall UFC record of 7-2 since joining the promotion in April 2019. His first setback was a decision loss to Islam Makhachev in Tsarukyan’s UFC debut. He then lost a decision to Mateusz Gamrot in June 2022. Tsarukyan is coming off a June TKO win over Joaquim Silva. He is ranked No. 8 in the official UFC 155-pound rankings.
UFC on ESPN 52 main event: Beneil Dariush vs. Arman Tsarukyan betting picks
UFC on ESPN 52 main event: Beneil Dariush vs. Arman Tsarukyan betting breakdown
At 34, Beneil Dariush is one of the top lightweight fighters in the UFC. However, the highly-ranked competitor is coming off a loss that might have cost him his best chance of earning a shot at a UFC title. On the other side of the cage on Saturday, he faces the 27-year-old Arman Tsarukyan, who is looking to put himself in the conversation with Mateusz Gamrot and Rafael Fiziev as potential future 155-pound champions.
Dariush is one of the top wrestlers in the UFC lightweight division. However, throughout his winning streak, Dariush tended to try to beat opponents where they were at their best. That was a risky proposition for Dariush, and it caught up to him against Oliveira. Expect a more conservative approach from the UFC veteran, he joined the promotion in 2014, in the main event of UFC on ESPN 52.
Like Dariush, Tsarukyan is a wrestler first. He has developed a competent striking game but usually uses that striking to serve his grappling. He dominates on the mat and is an incredibly heavy fighter when on top. The fact that he is seven years younger than his foe in this fight could play a part. However, it cannot be overlooked that he does not have a win over a ranked opponent.
As for the fighters these men have both faced, Dariush beat Gamrot (30-27, 30-27, 29-28), while Gamrot topped Tsarukyan (48-47 x 3).
UFC on ESPN 52 main event: Beneil Dariush vs. Arman Tsarukyan statistical breakdown
Beneil Dariush and Arman Tsarukyan are evenly matched in their offensive striking stats. Dariush lands an average of 3.79 significant strikes per minute and connects on 49 percent of his attempts. Meanwhile, Tsarukyan lands at a rate of 3.82 significant strikes per minute and sticks 48 percent of his striking attempts. Dariush gets hit more than Tsarukyan, absorbing 2.63 significant strikes per minute vs. 1.91, but the UFC vet has a better defensive striking percentage than Tsarukyan at 58 percent vs. 54 percent.
The grappling stats favor the younger fighter. Tsarukyan lands 3.43 takedowns per 15 minutes as opposed to Dariush’s 1.91, and he has a better takedown percentage at 36 percent vs. 34 percent. As for defensive grappling, Dariush’s takedown defense is 80 percent, and Tsarukyan’s is 75 percent.
One thing to consider when looking at the stats for this fight is that Dariush has faced tougher competition than Tsarukyan during their UFC careers.
Best UFC on ESPN 52 main event bets
I’m not too fond of the betting odds in this fight for wagering on the betting favorite, Arman Tsarukyan. He does not offer good betting value against a fighter as accomplished as Beneil Dariush, especially since he hasn’t beaten a string of ranked opponents at this point in his UFC career. With that, the betting value is on Dariush to win, but if one feels confident that time and many weight cuts have caught up with Dariush, then a wager on Tsarukyan makes great sense. My betting pick is for the betting underdog, Dariush to get the upset win via decision.
Best UFC on ESPN 52 main event betting pick: Beneil Dariush to win via decision.
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