The co-main event of UFC St. Petersburg turned out to be a show-stealing grappling clinic, and earned Islam Makhachev and newcomer Arman Tsarukyan Fight of the Night.
UFC St. Petersburg marked the second trip to Russia for the world’s premiere MMA promotion. The sold out show at the Yubileyny Sports Palace saw heavyweight veteran Alistair Overeem finish off Aleksei Oleinik at the end of the first round, but that performance wasn’t enough to snag ‘The Reem’ a bonus. Instead, UFC Senior Vice President of International and Content David Shaw announced post-fight that Islam Makhachev vs. Arman Tsarukyan had earned Fight of the Night honors. Performance of the Night bonuses, meanwhile, went to Magomed Mustafaev and Sergei Pavlovich.
Arman Tsarukyan was an absolute surprise on the card Saturday. Signed in late March by the UFC, the undefeated Tiger Muay Thai product had a tough test in his promotional debut against Islam Makhachev. Dagestan’s Makachev entered the night with four straight wins under the UFC banner, 5-1 in the promotion overall. He improved that figure to 6-1 after a fantastic grappling battle against a surprisingly game Tsarukyan. For the newcomer, an extra $50,000 should take some of the sting off the first loss of his career.
Performance bonuses favored the knockout artists. Magomed Mustafaev finished off Rafael Fiziev thanks to a well-placed spinning back fist (plus follow-up strikes), while Sergei Pavlovich took barely over a minute to knock out Brazil’s Marcelo Golm.