UFC best bets: Tsarukyan-Gamrot

June 24, 2022 09:07 PM

We’re back to the APEX Center in Las Vegas for this week’s UFC Tsarukyan vs. Gamrot event. The 12-fight card begins at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on ESPN2 with the main card kicking off at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. 

Thus far in the UFC, favorites hold a 129-69-4 record (63.8%). Insight the Octagon profitability stands 13-8 + 4.59 units after last week's two losses. It’s time to get some back!

Arman Tsarukyan (-260) vs. Mateusz Gamrot (+ 220)

Lightweight (155 pounds) | Main event

Casual fans might not know these fighters, but believe me, this main event is absolutely outstanding matchmaking. They each own 12 finishes in their professional careers, so we’re in for a barnburner of a main event.

This lightweight division is loaded, and Tsarukyan, ranked 11th, and Gamrot, 12th, could compete against anyone in the division not named Charles Oliveira, in my judgment.

What we have is this: Tsarukyan, a Master of Sport in wrestling, vs. Gamrot, a two-time ADCC European Championship Submission Wrestling gold medalist. The winner of this bout is a top-five talent in a division clogged with top-end elite talent. 

Gamrot is a 31-year-old mixed martial artist from Poland. He is a lefty with a BJJ blackbelt and highly effective striking. The former two-division KSW champion is 20-1 and 3-1 in the UFC with strong wins and a tight split-decision loss to last week’s release, Guram Kutateladze in late 2020.

Gamrot forges forward at all times looking to barrage opponents with striking, clinching, grappling and aggressiveness. He’s in his prime and arguably the cleaner more effective striker in this matchup.

Gamrot understands that if he puts Tsarukyan’s pelt on his mantle, he’ll be propelled up the standings immediately.

Tsarukyan’s story is similar to Gamrot’s, though, perhaps a bit more impressive. Tsarukyan has one blemish on his record — a short-notice decision loss against current fourth-ranked lightweight Islam Makhachev early in 2019. Since then, Tsarukyan has devastated all opposition in his way.

Tsarukyan’s striking is effective but a bit telegraphed and at times wild. Therefore, he must focus on his wrestling in this fight to give him an advantage against Gamrot. Forcing Gamrot against the fence to negate his striking space is stage one, then Tsarukyan may attack from in close with the goal to move this fight to the floor.

Tsarukyan is the deserving favorite, but -260 is too much premium when we consider the competition.

No play: Pass for now

Total in this fight: 4.5 rounds Pick-’em

Mario Bautista (-155) vs. Brian Kelleher (+ 135)

Bantamweight (135 pounds)

Kelleher, 35, has fought as a bantamweight and a featherweight (145 pounds) for the last couple of years. This will be his first bout back down at 135 pounds in a while, so while he is used to competing with larger athletes, he’s done so at a higher weight. He will not have that advantage Saturday as he’ll have to cut the weight, then compete with a man easily the size of many featherweights come fight night.

Kelleher, 24-13 and 8-6 in the UFC, is a blue belt in BJJ and has a wicked effective guillotine choke. Kelleher’s striking is effective and his grappling completes his well-rounded fight arsenal. In this bout, he’ll need to force Bautista into the cage, then onto the floor in order to gain an advantage.

Bautista, 9-2 professionally and 3-2 in the UFC, is seven years younger, three inches taller and has a three-inch reach advantage over Kelleher. Bautista has a deep wrestling/BJJ background, but his forte is his refined, precision striking game. He’s been in with elite opponents, but his relative obscurity has resulted in him having a very attractive price. 

Kelleher must find a way to crowd and smother Bautista, force his way inside and make this a clinching, groping, mauling, grappling match.

Bautista must blister Kelleher as he forges inward with jabs, combination work, elbows and kicks, thus competing with him from distance and forcing him to absorb damage in order to gain the inside.

Bautista’s combination of size, length, youth, quickness, deft striking and wrestling chops present a problem for a skilled, veteran fighter in Kelleher.

Play: Bautista -155

Total in this fight: 2.5 rounds Over -125

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