With the anticipated return of Conor McGregor (22-4) at UFC 257 on Fight Island, there are a number of underrated fights that MMA fans should look out for. It seems the UFC brass has finally turned on to the idea that when your biggest star is fighting in the main event, it’s a good idea to have potential stars in the undercard so they can get some shine.
Basically Dana White has finally cottoned on to the idea that if you want something to get eyes on it, make sure you plaster it with Conor McGregor. Good to know that despite his vitriol against MMA media, he has learned our sole method of getting clicks. However, this article isn’t about Conor McGregor, it’s about 3 UFC 257 fights to look out for, that aren’t Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier (26-6) 2.
1 Arman Tsarukyan vs Nasrat Haqparast
One of the most exciting fights happening at UFC 257 is between two lightweight prospects in Arman Tsarukyan (15-2) vs Nasrat Haqparast (11-3). Tsarukyan is known for having one of the toughest UFC debuts against established contender Islam Makhachev (18-1) and doing incredibly well to make what was expected to a gimme for Makhacev. Haqparast is best known for the legal assault of Marc Diakiese (14-4), as well as getting sent into orbit by Drew Dober (23-9). Both men have bounced back from their losses and are young enough to expect growth and development. They are also amazing athletes with a penchant for high pace action, so one can expect an incredibly violent affair.
In terms of how the matchup will play out, Haqparast will likely have the boxing advantage while the wrestling advantage will likely go to Tsarukyan. However Tsarukyan may have success using his kicks, and Haqparast is a capable anti-wrestler, so while Tsarukyan may get him down, it may be difficult for the Georgian to keep Haqparast there. Tsarukyan may have a strength advantage but Haqparast will definitely have a speed advantage. This fight at UFC 257 may decide who is leading the pack of the lightweight division in the next five years. So make sure you don’t miss out on this definite banger.
2 Marina Rodriguez vs Amanda Ribas
Rodriguez vs Ribas is an interesting UFC 257 fight to keep an eye on because it is a clash of the new breed of Women’s strawweight. Amanda Ribas (10-1) is riding high on the momentum of beating both Paige VanZant (8-4), Randa Markos (10-10-1), and Mackenzie Dern (10-1). While her fight with PVZ seemed to be a bit of a squash match, Ribas has emerged on the scene as a complete MMA fighter with a lethal ground game. Marina Rodriguez (12-1-2) has had a few stumbles lately, with her first professional loss coming at the hands of Carla Esparza last year. However, Rodriguez certainly has the skills and athletic ability to challenge Ribas on the ground.
While it seems like Ribas is on the path to greater things, Rodriguez is certainly capable of derailing her hype. In this case, Ribas may want to execute a kickboxing game plan wherein she just tools Rodriguez on the feet to play into space where she might have a greater advantage. One issue is Rodriguez’s frame which may cause problems for Ribas if she stays on the outside. However, we are likely to see her mix it up and use her standup game to confuse Rodriguez and then shoot for a takedown and maintain top control, as she did with Dern.
Rodriguez may need to pressure Ribas and look to get into clinch exchanges where she can leverage her height to deliver knees in the clinch since she is capable of delivering significant damage there. However, regardless of how this fight goes, we are likely to see impressive grappling exchanges between these two women so this UFC 257 fight is one that fans should not miss.
3 Nik Lentz vs Movzar Evolev
Nik Lentz (30-11-2-1) is an established UFC veteran who has fought some of the best the UFC has to offer, such as current lightweight contender Charles Oliveria (30-8). Movsar Evloev (13-0) is an outstanding prospect who is currently surging up the division rankings. Evloev’s most recent three-round domination of Mike Grundy (12-1) established him as one to watch. Lentz is coming off a two-fight losing streak, however, he has been facing elite competition and has established himself as a gatekeeper to the elite of featherweight and lightweight.
This is probably a must-win for Lentz who may be cut from the roster if he drops a third in a row. If Evoloev is can get an impressive win over Lentz he will probably get a step up in competition and propel himself up the featherweight rankings. While the divisional significance of this match grants it solid stakes, what makes it truly exciting is the clash of styles. Lentz is an accomplished wrestler with solid striking which means he will be able to create problems for Evoloev no matter where the fight goes.
Evloev will be unable to flow between grappling and striking exchanges as comfortably as he has in previous matchups which means he will have to show some grit and determination against the always game Lentz. Evloev should win this fight impressively but we cannot count out Lentz and so this fight is one of the more compelling UFC 257 fights to look out for.
UFC 257 Fights to Look Out For
UFC 257 McGregor vs Poirier 2 might look like a top-heavy card, but in reality, there are a number of fights that are all but guaranteed excitement. So make sure you look out for these 3 UFC 257 fights.
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