Arman Tsarukyan & The Depiction of MMA’s Progression
By James Lee
As the consistent trend of weekly UFC Apex events presents a throwback to the foundations of the company’s mainstream inception, a fighter on this weekend’s main card portrays the sport’s progression since the likes of Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar lined up as part of The Ultimate Fighter season one.
Naturally, the sport’s youthful nature means the rapid advancement of skill-level is continuous, and although it was anticipated that this generation would comprehend that mould, the progress should not go unnoted.
Such progression can be best witnessed through lightweight Arman Tsarukyan.
As the likes of Joe Rogan previously pondered about the future of the sport and fighters who had practised mixed martial arts from an early age, that period is approaching as Tsarukyan offers a level of skill that was once only reserved for the most unique.
He especially represents the growth of the lightweight division, as albeit controversial, those who dominated the sport a decade ago would likely struggle to acquire contender status in the current climate.
Such advancement in skill means mixed martial arts has become less singular, and pure. Totally diverted from the initial style versus style, as the new era is competent in all areas of combat.
In the case of Tsarukyan, he was just twenty-two years old when he was sprung into the limelight in a competitive promotional debut against Islam Makhachev. Few have been able to compete with Makhachev, but Tsarukyan did that and more, even at a young age and on short notice. The rise of his Russian counterpart since has only emphasised his efforts and provides even more excitement to his imminent future.
Since that loss, Tsarukyan has won three times consecutively, including over some notable names. A bounce-back victory over Olivier Aubin-Mercier re-established his customary success, before he utilised his speed advantage to outwork the aggressive Davi Ramos; showcasing both his wrestling and striking capabilities. His most recent outing against Matt Frevola contained similar dominance.
Saturday’s contest sees him face veteran Christos Giagos. Although an experienced opponent, the Georgian fighter is a -700 favourite to extend his winning streak. Nevertheless, the competitive nature of the contest for a fight where neither men are established contenders again showcases the progression.
A sole competitive loss to Islam Makhachev is the only blip on the Armenian’s UFC record yet, and despite being just 24 years old, Tsarukyan has vast global experience, and his sixteen professional victories compliment that.
Aside from Tsarukyan individually, however, he represents a greater depiction of the sport’s progression. We can only wonder about the quality of future fighters, but if Tsarukyan is an example of anything, the quality will become increasingly different to those who laid the sport’s foundations only a few decades ago.
Photo Credit: Zuffa/UFC