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UFC Vegas 66 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Arman Tsarukyan vs. Damir Ismagulov: Your Last Juicy UFC Underdog of 2022 (Saturday, December 17)

UFC Vegas 66 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Arman Tsarukyan vs. Damir Ismagulov: Your Last Juicy UFC Underdog of 2022 (Saturday, December 17) article feature image
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Zhe Ji/Getty Images. Pictured: UFC lightweight Damir Ismagulov

  • Rising lightweights Arman Tsarukyan and Damir Ismagulov meet in Saturday's UFC Vegas 66 co-main event.
  • Tsarukyan's grapple-heavy style will clqsh with Ismagulov's dangerous striking in the three-round bet.
  • Below, Manpreet Jhass breaks down the matchup and offers his best betting angle for the fight.

Arman Tsarukyan vs. Damir Ismagulov Odds

Tsarukyan Odds
-215
Ismagulov Odds
+164
Over/Under
2.5 (-280 / +210)
Venue
UFC Apex in Las Vegas
Time
9:30 p.m. ET
Channel
ESPN+
Odds as of Friday and via FanDuel.

With an Arman Tsarukyan vs. Damir Ismagulov co-headliner, this weekend marks the final event of the 2022 UFC schedule.

The main event features two fighters coming off high-stakes matchups, middleweight Jared Cannonier and Sean Strickland, who will attempt to reassert themselves into title contention.

However, all eyes will be on the co-main event – a fight that many people believe deserves top billing and an extra two rounds. Lightweight standouts Tsarukyan and Ismagulov throw down to determine who moves closer to a contender slot.

Tsarukyan will be looking to bounce back after fumbling his first UFC main event appearance in a closely contested fight with Mateusz Gamrot back in June.

Ismagulov looks to build upon his impressive 24-1 professional record with his stiffest test to date.

Will the grapple-heavy style of Tsarukyan be too much? Or will Ismagulov paint a picture with his jab en route to a victory?

Read on to find out how these high-level lightweights match up and how I will be looking to bet on Tsarukyan vs. Ismagulov.

Tale of the Tape

Tsarukyan Ismagulov
Record 18-3 24-1
Avg. Fight Time 13:27 15:00
Height 5’7″ 5’10”
Weight (pounds) 155 lbs. 155 lbs.
Reach (inches) 72″ 74″
Stance Orthodox Orthodox
Date of birth 10/11/1996 2/3/1991
Sig Strikes Per Min 3.76 4.05
SS Accuracy 45% 42%
SS Absorbed Per Min 1.86 2.56
SS Defense 54% 63%
Take Down Avg 2.71 1.40
TD Acc 33% 28%
TD Def 75% 90%
Submission Avg 0.0 0.0

Not often do you see a fighter raise his stock in a losing effort, but that was the case when Tsarukyan made his UFC debut against now-champion Islam Makhachev.

Tsarukyan put up a valiant effort, went takedown for takedown, and even had his own moments of success. However, he came up short that night but showcased he had a ton to offer to this division and that he needed just a little more seasoning.

He went on to win his next five fights to earn a main event slot against Gamrot. They went back and forth in a highly competitive matchup, something the odds did not indicate that night with Tsarukyan being a 3-to-1 favorite pre-fight. After 25 minutes, Gamrot got his hand raised to the dismay of many.

Although he didn’t get a notch in the win column, the experience Tsarukyan accrued that night is invaluable for the progression of his career.

At his best, Tsarukyan can grapple you into the ground and go scramble for scramble. His striking is passable, but a lot of it is to eventually set up the takedown.

He’s explosive and fast, but if he can’t get his dominant grappling going, it leaves openings for his opponents to exploit him on the feet.

Ismagulov, meanwhile, is a fighter I’ve had my eye on for years. He is riding a 19-fight winning streak that included him capturing the M-1 lightweight championship. M-1 is one of the more notable Russian organizations, and it’s produced many high-level fighters over the years.

Normally a fighter who likes to get in three fights a year, Ismagulov has been hindered by injuries and out-of-cage issues, allowing him to compete only twice since the end of 2019.

Now, with this being Ismagulov’s second fight in six months and shaking off the rust, I think we’ll see that championship-caliber style from him.

Not many fighters can produce masterpieces with their striking like Ismagulov does. He is an opportunistic striker who stays busy with the jab and follows up with power shots when he sees the opening. He’s not known to be a big finisher at this stage of his career, but luckily, he has the gas tank and work ethic to stick to his game plan and maximize his striking skills.

Ismagulov’s defensive grappling is high level, but it will surely be tested here. He doesn’t settle for bad positions and likes staying in motion whenever in a grappling scenario with the full intention of getting back to his feet and his handy work.

Tsarukyan vs. Ismagulov Pick

It bums me out to see fighters at this stage of their career facing each other; I think they would make great title fights or No. 1 contender fights. This definitely has shades of the latter as the winner likely finds himself against the top 5-7 of the division next.

I do think at this present moment that Ismagulov has better overall tools to win a judges’ decision. A lot of Tsarukyan’s success comes from him landing takedowns and getting shots off from top position. I think those moments will be limited here with the defensive grappling skills of Ismagulov. As this fight plays out longer, I think we’ll see Ismagulov have extended time in the striking realm to maximize his impression on the judges.

I’m expecting a classic Ismagulov performance here, and I really think this fight deserves to be closer to a pick’em. Ismagulov is consistently a -500 favorite in his fights, so to get him at an underdog price here in a matchup that he will be highly competitive in is a no-brainer spot.

Don’t be shocked to see Ismagulov in a title fight by the end of 2023, but it all starts this weekend.

Pick: Damir Ismagulov (+164)

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