UFC Vegas 57: Mateusz Gamrot ekes by Arman Tsarukyan in thriller

Mateusz Gamrot and Arman Tsarukyan put on the kind of fight Saturday at Apex in Las Vegas that is a primer for everything great about mixed martial arts. It was fast with wild scrambles, great striking, high-level wrestling and grappling and an intensity one rarely sees for 25 full minutes.

Gamrot won a unanimous decision in a bout that showcased the unreal depth of the UFC’s lightweight division. Tsarukyan came into the bout ranked 11th and Gamrot 12th, and after watching them battle so fiercely over five rounds, it’s hard to believe there are 10 fighters in the division better than they are.

Gamrot was behind 20-18 after two rounds, but swept the final three on all three judges' scorecards to eke out the decision.

Only a split decision loss to Guram Kutateladze in 2020 keeps Gamrot from being 22-0 as a professional. Tsarukyan fell to 18-3 in suffering his first defeat since a 2019 decision loss to Islam Makhachev.

Tsarukyan controlled the fight early with his body kicks. There were plenty of fast-paced scrambles early in the fight, but neither man had an advantage. But as the fight wore on, Gamrot’s wrestling became more of a factor.

It was such an edge by the latter half of the fight that in the rest period after the fourth round, Tsarukyan’s corner was urging him, “No more wrestling!”

Tsarukyan had a 95-81 edge in significant strikes landed, but Gamrot had six takedowns to one for Tsarukyan. Four of those takedowns — two each — came in the final two rounds for Gamrot.

Gamrot’s striking, though was more accurate. He landed 58 percent of his significant strikes to 38 percent for Tsarukyan and connected on an incredibly high 20 of 25 in the fifth round. Tsarukyan, by contrast, landed 23 of 54 in the last.

“It was a very tough fight,” Gamrot said. “That was high-level MMA.”

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 25: (R-L) Mateusz Gamrot of Poland punches Arman Tsarukyan of Georgia in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 25, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Mateusz Gamrot and Arman Tsarukyan put on quite a show Saturday at Apex in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Tsarukyan dropped Gamrot with a spinning back first early in the fourth, but Gamrot recovered quickly and got back to his feet. That was a turning point as Gamrot’s wrestling skills took over the fight from that point on.

Gamrot had Tsarukyan’s back late in the fourth, and had Tsarukyan’s knee tucked awkwardly underneath him, but Tsarukyan worked his way out of it.

“I don’t know what happened [because] this camp was very good,” Tsarukyan said. “I don’t know. I have to show a better fight than this one.”

Gamrot capped an amazing fight by pulling out a surprising callout. He asked for No. 3 Justin Gaethje, who is coming off a loss to Charles Oliveira.

The fight won’t happen primarily because Gaethje is so much higher ranked than he is, and the winner of the July 9 bout between No. 7 Rafael dos Anjos and No. 10 Rafael Fiziev might be a more logical next opponent for him.

But there’s no blaming him for reaching for the stars after the spectacular performance he turned in.

“Now I want to fight with Justin Gaethje,” Gamrot said. “Justin Gaethje is the most brutal guy in the division and so I want to fight him next.”