April 19, 2019

UFC on ESPN+ 7: Keep Your Eye On These Prospects At UFC St. Petersburg

By Adam Martin

The UFC heads to St. Petersburg, Russia for the first time in promotional history this Saturday for UFC on ESPN+ 7, and a number of intriguing prospects will be making their promotional debuts. In total, seven fighters will be entering the Octagon for the first time, and below is a list of the newest fighters on the UFC roster, and what you need to know about them.

Arman Tsarukyan (13-1)

The co-main event will see top Russian lightweight Islam Makchaev take on UFC newcomer Tsarukyan. The 22-year-old fellow Russian comes to the UFC riding a 12-fight win streak and overall has finished 10 of his 13 pro victories since making his pro MMA debut in 2015. He has a tough opponent here in Makhachev and few are expecting him to win, but the UFC matchmakers wouldn't have put him in this spot if they didn't think he could. Even if he doesn't emerge victorious, Tsarukyan is someone to keep your eye on going forward.

Ivan Shtyrkov (15-0-1)

Arguably the most intriguing prospect to make his UFC debut is the light heavyweight Shtyrkov, who takes on Devin Clark in a main card bout. Shtyrkov is 30, so he's a bit older than most of the prospects on this list, but he's perhaps the most interesting of all the UFC debutants on the card. Shtyrkov made his pro MMA debut in 2015 and has already racked up 15 wins, including 11 by stoppage. But the thing is, he hasn't just been beating up random fighters, he's fought some solid fighters on the Russian regional scene, and has finished the likes of Thiago Silva, Fabio Maldonado, and Jeff Monson. He looks like a tremendous prospect and makes a great addition to the UFC's 205-pound division.

Alen Amedovski (8-0)

A Bellator veteran, Amedovski is a 31-year-old Macedonia
native who comes to the UFC with a perfect 8-0 record with all eight wins by knockout. Six of those knockouts came in the first round, including his last two wins in Bellator, and he makes for a solid addition to the UFC middleweight division. He gets a stern test in his promotional debut against gatekeeper Krzysztof Jotko, but if he wins this fight the UFC matchmakers could fast-track him to a top-15 fight.

Movsar Evloev (10-0) and Seung Woo Choi (7-1)

A 25-year-old native of Russia, Evloev takes on 26-year-old South Korean native Woo Choi in what should be an exciting bantamweight bout between two fighters making their UFC debuts. Evloev made his pro MMA debut five years ago and was a champion in M-1 Challenge before signing with the UFC, while Choi has been a standout on the Korean regional scene since making his pro debut in 2015. Both guys tend to finish their fights, making this a very intriguing matchup between UFC newbies.

Alex Da Silva Coelho (20-1)

A 23-year-old prospect fighting out of Brazil, Coelho takes on Alexander Yakovlev in his UFC debut after racking up a brilliant 20-1 record on the regional scene, with all 20 wins by stoppage. Considering he made his pro debut in 2014, it's amazing how many fights Coelho has racked up in such a short period of time. He has a tough UFC debut here against the Russian veteran Yakovlev, but if he can win this fight in impressive fashion, it would be massive for his rising career.

Rafael Fiziev (6-0)

Opening up the card is Fiziev, the 26-year-old Kyrgyzstan native who takes on Russian Magomed Mustafaev in a lightweight bout. Fiziev made his pro MMA debut in 2015 and has already racked up six victories, all by stoppage, including a body kick KO in Titan FC his last time out. His finishing prowess is intriguing, and the curtain-jerker of UFC St. Petersburg should make for an exciting fight.

You never know who the latest star in MMA could be. Last year, Israel Adesanya made his UFC debut with little fanfare and no one would have thought that a year later he would be a champion at the sport's highest level. So keep your eye on these debuting prospects at UFC on ESPN+ 7, because you very well could be watching the start of something special.

UFC on ESPN+ 7: Overeem vs. Oleinik (formerly UFC on ESPN+ 7: Volkov vs. Overeem) takes place April 20, 2019 at Yubileyniy Arena in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Click HERE for more UFC on ESPN+ 7 Pre-Fight Analysis

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