UFC on ESPN 52 goes down this weekend and is quite possibly the best UFC Fight Night card of all time. With a banger of a headliner, a co-main event that sees two of the most exciting fighters at lightweight clash, multiple former champions on the card and plenty of other fun fighters featuring, this is trending towards being legendary.
We take a look at the key fights on the card and why they make this card brilliant overall.
This card features 10 ranked fighters, two former champions and a former title challenger. The legendary Clay Guida also features on this card. There are two undefeated fighters on this bill also.
Lightweight Title Eliminator?
Headlining in Texas will see perennial contender, Beneil Daruish meet the up-and-coming, Arman Tsarukyan. Last time out, Daruish faced former champion, Charles Oliveira. Despite heading into the bout undefeated in his previous eight fights Daruish couldn’t get it done and the Brazillian appeared to be too much. Daruish was on the end of a first-round TKO finish.
Tsarukyan, at just 27 is seen as a future title challenger and potential champion. He’s enjoying a two-fight winning run, including a finish last time out. It’s worth noting that he’s previously faced the champion, Islam Makhachev. He took on Makhachev on his debut (which he took on late notice) and went the full 15 minutes in what was eventually a losing effort.
Expect plenty of wrestling transitions in this one, with heavy hands on the side of Daruish. A loss for either man will force them to take massive steps back in regard to the title picture. The winner, however, will progress, cement themselves as a top contender and set up a huge fight next.
There’s little doubt that the experience lies in the fists of Daruish, a man with 22 UFC fights to his name and a host of BJJ experience under his belt (pardon the pun) too. Tsarukyan has just nine UFC bouts, however, has previously headlined against Mateusz Gamrot in a losing effort. The 27 year old has, however, had just five fewer fights than Daruish, despite being seven years younger and debuting in MMA after Daruish had already had seven UFC fights.
Short Notice Lightweight Fireworks
The co-main event originally was going to see Bobby Green clash with Dan Hooker in a five-round bout which guaranteed fireworks. This fight got fans extremely excited due to the style of both men, with neither man ever looking to take a step backwards. Hooker suffered a recurring arm injury, however, and had to withdraw from the bout.
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The replacement fighter will also provide fireworks, however. #12 Jalin Turner, the man who Hooker beat last time out will step in to face Green. The fight will be a three-rounder.
Turner is staring down the barrel of three straight losses, dropping his last two via split decision, however, is still one of the most exciting lightweight contenders. He’s competed in 10 UFC bouts, with only three going the distance. Green has seen somewhat of a career revival in recent times, which started with his finish over Al Iaquinta in 2021. Since then, he’s 4-2-0-1, only losing to Drew Dober and future champion, Makhachev. Last time out, it took him just 33 seconds to knock out Grant Dawson, handing Dawson his second professional loss.
Expect fireworks in this one, despite it being a replacement fighter. Both men bring it on their feet and can mix things up on the ground, so expect the pace to be high, the exchanges to be wild and a highly competitive scrap.
Remainder of the Main Card
The third fight on the main card sees former flyweight champion, Deiveson Figueiredo make his highly anticipated move up to bantamweight to take on perennial contender, Rob Font. Figueiredo will make his fifth UFC walk since 2020, however, has only fought one man in all that time. Font will be the first opponent that he faces, not named Brandon Moreno in over three years. The former champion has had four, back-to-back title fights with the Mexican, with varying levels of success. He was always big for the weight class, so, at 35 years old, it’s a logical decision to move up a weight class.
Font will be looking to get back into the win column after dropping a unanimous decision to Cory Sandhagen last time out. Prior to this, he snapped his losing skid and stopped the onslaught of Adrian Yanez via knockout in the first round.
Sean Brady looks to bounce back from the first professional loss of his career as he takes on former interim title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum. Brady suffered a devastating loss when he was looking to get into the title picture, getting finished by Belal Muhammad. Gastelum hasn’t made welterweight (where this fight will be contested) since UFC 200, in 2016, over seven years ago. Last time out, he defeated Chris Curtis, snapping a two fight skid. He will be looking to put back-to-back wins together for the first time since 2017/2018.
Kelvin Gastelum’s last time fighting at welterweight (2016) vs. 2023 pic.twitter.com/0o2XVjhD4j
— MMA Mania (@mmamania) November 29, 2023
Opening the main card is a banger at middleweight between the hard-hitting, all-action Punahele Soriano and Dustin Stoltzfus. Stoltzfus is in desperate need on a win, having gone 1-5 in his UFC career thusfar. Both men will bring it and should provide an entertaining bout.
Headlining the prelims is a match-up between two gritty veterans as Clay Guida returns for his 62nd professional fight as he takes on eight-year UFC vet, Joaquim Silva.
Miesha Tate is back in action after her quasi-retirement and stint at 125lbs as she returns to the weight class where she used to be the champion. Tate is 1-5 in her last six, spanning seven years and has retired twice, however, she hopes for one last push as she takes on 13th-ranked bantamweight, Julia Avila. Avila will make her return after over two years away from the sport. Don’t expect a fast start from either of these women, who have been devoid of action in recent times.
💥 Brace for fireworks at #UFCAustin this Saturday! 🚀 Former champ #12 🇺🇸 Miesha Tate clashes with the ruthless #13 🇺🇸 Julia Avila in a top-fifteen bantamweight clash! 💫
— Women's MMA Rankings (@WMMARankings) November 27, 2023
Undefeated finisher, Zach Reese looks to continue that finishing streak as he debuts against Cody Brundage.
Veronica Hardy will also look to continue the good form she showed last time out when she takes on Canada’s Jamey-Lyn Horth. Hardy returned after over three years away from the sport to out-point Julianna Miller in March. Horth made her debut on short notice last time out, defeating Hailey Cowan via decision.
This card guarantees action and we can’t wait!