The Armenian fighter showed off a strong grappling attack round after round that had Aubin-Mercier stuck playing defense, which ultimately cost him the fight with the judges all scoring the fight 29-28 in favor of Tsarukyan.
Heading into UFC 240 most expected this to be a striker versus grappler matchup but Tsarukyan switched things up by looking to take Aubin-Mercier to the ground rather than stay on the outside with his kickboxing arsenal. Tsarukyan did a good job maintaining control on Aubin-Mercier throughout the opening round but struggled to do the same in the second session.
Aubin-Mercier began timing Tsarukyan’s takedowns, which led to a devastating knee strike that definitely rattled the 22-year old lightweight. To his credit, Tsarukyan stayed calm while holding onto a leg to take the necessary time to regain his composure.
While the knee strike definitely did some damage, Aubin-Mercier was unable to capitalize for the remainder of the round, which then allowed Tsarukyan to reset his game plan going into the final five minutes.
Tsarukyan altered his takedowns in the final stanza as he once again found a way to get inside on Aubin-Mercier and then drag him to the mat. Tsarukyan wasn’t mounting a ton of offense but he was staying busy enough to remain on top without the referee standing them up.
The Edmonton crowd was definitely vocal about the way the fight played out but Tsarukyan still did enough to earn the victory after three rounds.
He moves to 14-2 overall with his first win in the UFC while Aubin-Mercier has now dropped three straight decisions after working his way into the lightweight rankings last year.