It’s hard to imagine anyone having a crazier Fight Week experience at UFC 257 than Matt Frevola.
“The Steamrolla” arrived in Abu Dhabi expecting to face Ottman Azaitar in a lightweight bout on the PPV main card. Then, come weigh-in Friday, it was learned that Azaitar had been yanked from the event, after egregiously violating health and safety protocols when he and his team snuck someone into the safety zone put in place to help protect athletes from COVID-19.
That left Frevola without a dance partner. He weighed in as a back-up, but really, how often are those required? Then, before weigh-ins were even over, Nasrat Haqparast was forced to pull out of his own lightweight fight against Arman Tsarukyan. Frevola was back in the ball game — except Tsarukyan had missed weight by three pounds. After an additional hour to cut, he came in at just a pound over, and there was little chance Frevola was turning the fight down regardless.
Clearly excited to just be competing, Frevola fired off a spinning kick within the opening thirty seconds. That fell short, and Tsarukyan quickly landed a takedown. That led to a fun little scramble as Frevola made his way out, but Tsarukyan quickly had him back down. The grappling exchanges in the opening round were highly entertaining, but at the end of the round, Frevola made things dirty, getting his hands going — even stunning his opponent just before the end of the round.
In the second, Tsarukyan managed to plant Frevola on his back and work in some ground n’ pound. But while in control, Tsarukyan looked to have tired a little. Frevola scrambled free, but wound up being dragged back down shortly after. Tsarukyan trapped a leg between his own, preventing Frevola, at least briefly, from climbing back up. And once again, when “The Steamrolla” did make it back to his feet, he was put on his back again. This time, in an exchange of strikes on the ground, a right hand from Frevola, while perched on one leg, split Tsarukyan open. But it didn’t slow his progress on top any. Tsarukyan threatened with an arm triangle, which forced Frevola to give up the back. A few more transitions and the round came to a close.
Almost immediately in the third, Tsarukyan landed a takedown. If he had tired earlier, he’d found a second wind. Frevola was able to quickly escape back up, and circled on the outside. His hope for winning the bout rested on staying upright, and possibly on how the opening round had been scored. Staying upright, however, was easier said than done. The next time they went down, Frevola defended with a guillotine and scrambled out, threatening with an upkick in the process. On the feet, Tsarukyan began to find success with his jab, then ducked a punch and landed a big takedown before taking the back. Frevola was too slick to give up his neck, but Tsarukyan soon had the back again. He’d finish the fight on top, looking to do some additional damage.
🇦🇲Arman Tsarukyan is headed home with another win.
— UFC (@ufc) January 24, 2021
Credit to Frevola for the insane twenty-four hours he went through, and for stepping up against an opponent who was an entirely different sort of fighter than he’d trained for. Not to mention one who missed weight. But in the end it was Arman Tsarukyan’s night.
Official Result: Arman Tsarukyan def. Matt Frevola by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)