A featherweight matchup between a young up-and-coming prospect and a grizzled veteran has been added to UFC Fight Night 68. Russian prospect Zubaira Tukhugov announced on his Instagram account that he will square off against Brazilian veteran Thiago Tavares at UFC Fight Night 68, which is scheduled to take place June 6 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. The bout is expected to take place on the preliminary card. Tukhugov is 2-0 so far in the UFC with a decision win over Douglas Silva de Andrade in his debut and a TKO win over Ernest Chavez in his sophomore appearance. Just 24 years of age, Tukhgov is currently riding an eight-fight win streak and is quickly climbing the 145lb ranks. Training at Tiger Muay Thai under the tutelage of Roger Huerta, Tukhugov is good friends with Mairbeck Taisumov, a rising contender at 155lbs, and together these two are looking to cause serious damage in the UFC featherweight and lightweight divisions, respectively. As for Tavares, it’s amazing he’s only 30 years old because it seems like he’s been around forever. The Brazilian is 9-5-1 in his UFC career, one that began in 2007, and has defeated the likes of Robert Peralta, Justin Salas, Sam Stout and Manny Gamburyan. He also has a notable early-career win over current Bellator featherweight contender Daniel Weichel. Tavares has not competed since last summer, when he submitted Peralta in the first round and won a Performance of the Night bonus at UFC Fight Night 47, so he might have some rust when he steps into the cage against Tukhugov. The Peralta fight was at 145lbs and was his featherweight debut, so if he looks anywhere as he good as he did in that fight in this fight against Tukhugov, he could very well make a run as a darkhorse contender in his new weight class. As far as how I see this fight playing out, it looks like a classic striker vs. grappler matchup to me. Tukhugov will be looking to keep this fight on the feet while Tavares will be looking to get his opponent to the ground. While Tavares definitely has a solid ground game when it gets there, I have a feeling Tukhugov can stuff the takedowns, keep this fight upright, and blast away at Tavares on the feet, possibly even knocking him out. Tavares always gets respect from the bettors — probably more than he deserves — so this line might be more competitive than it should be, but I really do like Tukhugov in this matchup and if he’s available at anywhere under 2-to-1 then he’ll be someone to target for a bet this June.
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