The Severe Spotlight: Arman Tsarukyan

Short notice replacements are difficult for any fighter to contend with. A significant portion of a fighter’s life has been carved out, working toward a date and a name. A style and a vision. When that’s taken away, turmoil ensues. Has that portion of time been put to waste? Is the fighter going to be able to showcase the camps work? Has the rigorous and strenuous dieting all been for not?

Then after those questions have been calmed by the notice of a replacement fighter, dependant on the time scales available to the newly calmed fighter – there is an entirely new set of challenges. Is the new fighter of a similar ilk, do we change the gameplan and if so, how quickly does one adapt to said gameplan? Of course, a short notice fighter has their own sets of issues surrounding gameplans and weight to contend with also.

Tsarukyan came into this performance taking a heavy step back in competition from the elite level competition he had fought in his recent outings. Specifically in his destruction over Joel Alvarez after the razor close content between himself and Mateusz Gamrot. With the favouritism weighing at least an extra 10lbs, he strode out into the Apex and locked horns with Joaquim Silva all the same.

Immediately Tsarukyan went to work with his now coveted body kicks from the southpaw stance. Silva forced to backup looked to gain some respect early but failed to setup his own back leg teep which Tsarukyan gladly gobbled up into a double leg. The brief struggle shows the immediate difference in levels. Silva posts on his right hand whilst leaning as much weight as possible through his left whizzer. In previous contests and against lesser grapplers he would have won the head height battle and returned to his feet. Tsarukyan however had a left claw grip of Silva’s knee, which stopped him from heisting his right leg back and continuously opened his head and chest to the near should of Silva which took weight off the whizzer and into the posting hand. That shift in weight to the back hand allowed the crashing of the near shoulder and the reward was a deep tight waist and a cross face for the Armenian. Levels.

A barrage of perfect head position, post strips and leg shelfing held Silva on the bottom for the rest of the round. A progression to a single hook back attack was undertaken and Silva did a great job of keeping Tsarukyan honest with a combination of good hand fighting and landing some shots of his own from a precarious position.

The second round allowed us to see something. Adversity shines in the eyes of every fighter with a different tinge of colour.

More vicious kicks from Tsarukyan opened the exchanges. The first minute saw Silva take a myriad of shots, being forced to switch stances to dissuade the variety enslaught. Head movement, shot selection, angle changes and of course those kicks were the story of the next minute. More of the same for the next one and a half minutes until Silva found the button. The shot had been coming in that Silva had been reduced to effectively sitting down into the pocket exchanges, taking the shots from Tsarukyan, and waiting for his moment to land his own.

Land, he did a sweet left hook counter that saw the Armenian wobble instantly. One minute and twenty-two seconds, in a locked cage on unstable legs is a long, long time. It took exactly ten seconds for him to navigate the chaos and find a double leg takedown riding the round out in the closed guard of Silva.

The third round saw a demonstrably meaner Tsarukyan. He was a fighter hunting a finish against a fighter in Silva that knew he could hurt the #8 ranked lightweight. The straight shots of Tsarukyan came thick, fast, and angrily until a fence clinch situation occurred. Double unders attained, Tsarukyan progressed to attempt to expose the back, in failing that he outside tripped Silva gorgeously. With a large bridge Silva forced a front headlock situation and gained the canvas under his feet as a reward.

A spinning back fist to a destructive body kick found Tsarukyan his clinch situation – pummelling an underhook he caught a naïve knee from Silva and slammed him back to the mat, landing immediately in side control and hailing down strikes. Silva taking innumerable shots tries to survive, until he was forced to give his back. Double hooks for Tsarukyan saw a last gasp attempt from Silva who rolled to his back.

Keith Peterson stepped in to ruin what would have been a perfect replica of a scene from a Gladiator film. Tsarukyan with a thousand-yard star, mounted aloft his opponent, soaking in adversity laden victory. Tsarukyan showed us something new, and we should be thankful to both fighters for that.

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