Octagon Oracles: Armen Petrosyan

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 19: (R-L) Armen Petrosyan punches Kaloyan Kolev in a light heavyweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season five, week eight at UFC APEX on October 19, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Grade: B+

After an impressive first-round finish on Contender Series in October, Armen Petrosyan will make his UFC debut on Saturday against Gregory Rodrigues.

A cursory glance at Petrosyan’s record indicates that he does his best work on the feet, as all six of the Armenian’s victories have come via strikes. The most impressive thing about his stand-up is how effective he’s able to be while relying on just a few key weapons. Focusing on precision rather than volume, his sharp jab will sting opponents until he settles in to start following it with a straight right that packs considerable power. “Superman” also gets to work kicking the lead leg early. The setup he uses for his inside low kick helps disguise the fact that he’ll start to use that lead leg to kick both the body and head of his opponents as fights go on. His ability to get that lead leg up in a hurry is probably his most dangerous finishing tool; he threw it to the body to finish Dmitry Minakov, and stopped Koloyan Kolev when it landed flush on Kolev’s head.

While Petrosyan hasn’t showed much desire to take fights to the ground himself, he has ended up there quite a few times. When he has been taken down “Superman” has largely excelled at quickly rolling to his knees in order to start getting up, and if he’s able to work himself to the fence first it’s been a huge advantage for him. Even when opponents hang onto him, he’s able to either defend the attempts or get back up shortly after hitting the canvas. That being said, even when he does gets back to his feet he’s still dropped opening rounds to opponents that have remained in a dominant grappling position and continued pursuing takedowns against the fence.

Although he may have shortcoming as a grappler, one thing Petrosyan has displayed multiple times in his career is an ability to maximize his opportunities on the feet. Artur Aliskerov and Dmitry Minakov both won the first rounds of their fights with him by using their grappling, but after following the same game plans in the second round Petrosyan finished them the moment he had enough space to land cleanly. He was able to do the same in his Contender Series fight with Koloyan Kolov, as Kolov controlled the majority of the round with his grappling but was finished late as Petroyan capitalized on his opportunities to strike with him.

After competing at light heavyweight his entire career Petrosyan will debut at middleweight against Gregory Rodrigues, who is already 2-0 in the UFC. While Rodrigues does like to stand and trade with opponents, he’s also willing to wrestle and recently competed at the UFC Fight Pass Invitational grappling event in December. There’s no need to bring Petrosyan along slowly, so Rodrigues is a great matchup to see where he stands at middleweight should he choose to stay in that division.

Petrosyan is an exciting striker who made a statement in his Contender Series win, so he can quickly endear himself to fans if he’s able to bring his finishing skills to the UFC. I think his fortunes are going to be fairly similar whether he’s competing at middleweight or light heavyweight. He’s going to light up opponents that can’t handle his striking and likely earn some more highlight-real finishes, but at some point he’s going to run into a wrestler that doesn’t give him the space needed to get those shots off. I’m also curious to see if his knockout loss to Hasan Yousefi was a one-off or if he encounters similar issues in the future, but overall he’s a talented and exciting addition to the UFC.

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