We’re all getting spoiled with these fantastic cards! Once again, the UFC delivered an incredible card with breakout performances and a thrilling main event. Arman Tsarukyan and Mateusz Gamrot both showed off their truly unbelievable grappling skills in the main event in a dead-even matchup. Before that though, Shavkat Rakhmonov continued his meteoric rise, extending his 15-0 streak to 16, grabbing just as many finishes. Other standout performances came from Umar Nurmagomedov, Chris Curtis, Thiago Moises, Carlos Ulberg, Cody Durden and Mario Bautista who ALL completely dominated their opponents. We also saw a truly insane come-from-behind win for Josh Parisian who was almost knocked out early, but came back to grab a TKO of his own. All of the bouts from UFC Vegas 57 are covered below along with BLÜ’s favourite performances of the night: the BLÜ BONUSES.

Prelim. Action

Fight #1

Vanessa Demopoulos def. Jinh Yu Frey by Split Decision

The difference in striking was clear early with Frey using her reach advantage and skills to her advantage, piecing Demopoulos up and walking her down. Even though she was getting pressured heavily and getting hit with some crisp combos, Demopoulos was still landing some crisp jabs, even cutting open Frey’s ear. With about a minute left in the round, she finally landed a takedown. Sadly for her, Frey got back up quickly without taking damage. It was close, but all that work from Jinh Yu Frey likely stole the round. Demopoulos tried to get some more output going at the start of the 2nd Round, but she still seemed to struggle with Frey’s pressure. As Frey started to slow down though, the round got a little closer with Demopoulos landing some heavier shots. After another close round, it was tough to tell what was happening on the cards; it could’ve been tied or Frey could’ve been up two rounds. Demopoulos didn’t want to take any chances, running straight at Frey, lit her up with HUGE combos and pinned her against the fence. It was like seeing a brand new fighter. It didn’t help Frey that she blew her nose in between rounds, leading to a slightly swollen eye and double vision. After doing some good work on the fence, Demopoulos seemed to slow down quite a bit and started to struggle with Frey’s striking once again. As the round closed though, Demopoulos pinned Frey against the fence, really trying to take the final round on the cards. Especially with all of the judging confusion lately, it’s tough to tell how the judges were going to score it and it really could have gone in either direction. In the end, the judges scored it 29-28, 28-29 and 30-27 (what???) for Vanessa Demopoulos.

Fight #2

Mario Bautista def. Brian Kelleher by Submission in the 1st Round

Bautista wasted no time, jumping in and hitting Kelleher with a CLEAN shot. He used that momentum to throw some more quick combos out there and drag Kelleher down to the ground. It didn’t take long from there; Bautista hit him with a couple of big shots, snuck his arm under the chin and made Kelleher tap right away.

Fight #3

Cody Durden def. JP Buys by TKO in the 1st Round

Durden grabbed the first moment of the fight, hitting Buys with a HUGE hook. Buys found himself against the fence, avoiding Durden’s onslaught. He went in for a desperate takedown, sadly, it was too late. Durden knew Buys was stunned so he blitzed him, dropped him to the ground and just let loose some relentless ground and pound for about 20 seconds straight until the ref stopped the fight.

Fight #4

BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #1

Raulian Paiva vs. Sergey Morozov

After losing his spot in the top 15 to the ‘Suga Show’, Sean O’Malley, in his last outing, Raulian Paiva is trying to make his way back, taking on the surging newcomer, Sergey Morozov. Raulian Paiva used to compete down at flyweight where he used his size and length as a weapon. Since moving up to bantamweight though, he’s had a much tougher time, winning a tight, somewhat questionable, majority decision against Kyler Phillips and getting brutally knocked out by O’Malley. Morozov is only 1-2 since joining the UFC last year, but lost to one of this card’s biggest names, Umar Nurmagomedov, and another dangerous contender in Douglas Silva de Andrade. Just like most of the other matchups on this card, this one seemed like it’d be close and thrilling. That being said, Morozov seemed to carry an edge that would help him take this fight on the judges’ cards.

Unlike Paiva, he’s a true bantamweight and likely couldn’t ever make flyweight. With that power and strength, he knocked down both Silva de Andrade and Taha AND took them both down to control them on the ground. It has to be said that Paiva is MUCH smaller and weaker than Silva de Andrade and still smaller than Taha. Meanwhile, Paiva was dropped and controlled by Phillips’ wrestling. Really, the only reason why Paiva won the decision over Phillips is because Phillips tired himself out after mangling Paiva in the opening round. Thanks to all that extra size and skill, I predicted Morozov would be able to win a hard-fought decision.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Morozov by Decision

Less than a minute in and Morozov was in BIG trouble. He got hit with a HUGE shot and was immediately wobbled, shooting in for a takedown. He couldn’t quite drag it down and Paiva just kept lighting him up with crisp combos. Paiva continued that dominance throughout the rest of the round, but Morozov did manage to land some bombs of his own, showing Paiva that he wasn’t quite out of the fight yet. Aiming to avoid Paiva’s striking, Morozov moved this fight to the ground. After a HUGE miss from Paiva, Morozov slammed Paiva into the canvas and started to get to work. It took Paiva a few minutes, but he managed to get back to his feet. From there he made it interesting, threatening a couple of standing submissions. With all that control time though, the fight was likely even 1-1 on the cards. Morozov opened the final round with a crisp combo and another beautiful takedown. He couldn’t quite keep him down, but he did get some control time along the fence. From there it was dead even with both men shooting for takedowns and throwing out wild combos. I’d have given the final round, and the fight, to Morozov thanks to a bit of extra activity and the control time. The judges all agreed, scoring it 29-28 for Morozov.

Result

Sergey Morozov def. Raulian Paiva by Unanimous Decision

Fight #5

Shayilan Nuerdanbieke def. TJ Brown by Unanimous Decision

Nuerdanbieke was explosive early, hitting Brown with some BOMBS. After some WILD exchanges where Nuerdanbieke landed the better shots, Brown dragged the fight to the ground. Brown had a couple of decent submission attempts going, but Shayilan flipped the script, sinking in a leg lock of his own. After bringing the fight back to the feet, it was Brown that started landing the heavier shots. In response to that, then it was Nuerdanbieke who moved the fight to the ground where he finished the round on top. It was WILD and very back and forth, but I may have given Nuerdanbieke the round. Looking to avoid the heavy strikes of Brown, Nuerdanbieke went in for an early takedown to open the 2nd Round. After getting controlled for a couple minutes, Brown reversed him and took his back.

From there he worked hard for the submissions, but Nuerdanbieke once again finished the round on top. With all the scrambling back and forth, it was tough to score the round, but I’d have said Brown tied it up 1-1. They both opened the final round with some wild striking, but it was Nuerdanbieke who stole the momentum back, taking Brown down, controlling him and chipping at him with ground and pound. With a minute left in the round, Brown reversed him and pushed HARD for a finish. He was doing well, but couldn’t quite get it done. The judges could have gone either way with it, but I would have probably gone with Nuerdanbieke. In the end, they all agreed, scoring it 29-28 Nuerdanbieke.

Fight #6

BLÜ’s Prelim. Pick #2

Tafon Nchukwi vs. Carlos Ulberg

Both of these men got their start on Dana White’s Contender Series. After grabbing a HUGE head kick KO on DWCS, Nchukwi was 2-2 in the UFC with a win over Jamie Pickett and fairly unlucky losses to Murzakanov and Jun Yong Park. I mention that he was unlucky in those fights because he lost to Park in a questionable majority decision and Murzakanov from a flying knee after doing well the rest of the fight. Ulberg has been less active, going 1-1 so far in the UFC. Both of these men had the chance to grab a KO. But after watching the tape, there’s a glaring hole in Ulberg’s defence that I thought would lead to a BRUTAL KO from Nchukwi. Ulberg is quick and has great kicks… but he holds his hands VERY low, not protecting his chin at all. In all of his 3 fights in front of UFC audiences, that was a problem.

Every time the opponent walks towards him and throws, Ulberg gets hit clean. Nchukwi may not be the fastest guy, but he walks forward constantly and pushes people into the fence and shreds them with HUGE shots. With that kind of jarring clash of styles, it seemed inevitable that Nchukwi would land a couple of big ones and finish the fight early.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Nchukwi by Finish

They both took it slow, waiting patiently for an opening. Then the fight exploded as Ulberg landed a flawless hook to the chin of Nchukwi. That wobbled Nchukwi and Ulberg ran in for the finish, lighting him up with huge shots until the ref stopped the fight.

Result

Carlos Ulberg def. Tafon Nchukwi by TKO in the 1st Round

Main Card Action

Fight #7

Chris Curtis vs. Rodolfo Vieira

Taking the middleweight division by storm, Chris Curtis is only two fights deep into his UFC journey but shocked the community with two HUGE KO wins over Phil Hawes and Brendan Allen. Rodolfo Vieira was also trying to get a spot in the top 15. Vieira is also young in his UFC career with a record of 3-1 in the UFC with all of his fights ending in submissions thanks to his incredible BJJ background. This matchup really could have gone in either direction. Curtis had the clear edge in striking while Vieira had a clear edge if the fight hit the canvas.

After watching a lot of tape, their styles seemed to favour Curtis slightly. Vieira is fantastic on the ground, but he hasn’t really handled forward pressure all that well, plus he tends to get hit a lot. Anthony Hernandez, Vieira’s last loss, who is MUCH smaller than Curtis, knocked Vieira down on multiple occasions and even controlled some of the grappling before Vieira got exhausted and was submitted. Curtis doesn’t get tired, always pressures forward and is VERY strong and large. With Curtis’ heavy style, I said Vieira was likely going to struggle to get his offence going and would likely end up getting finished by Curtis’ strikes.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Curtis by Finish

It took a while for the action to start, but Vieira opened it up with a takedown. Interestingly, it was Curtis that found himself in the dominant position. That led Vieira and Curtis moving the fight back to the feet. With some work in the clinch and a couple of heavy shots landed, Vieira took the opening round on my card. Curtis came in heavier the 2nd Round with his striking, but Vieira quickly shut that down by pinning him along the fence. Then the fight turned into a brawl with both men going WILD with their striking in the middle of the Octagon.

As expected, Curtis started to pull ahead thanks to the striking, likely closing the gap on the cards. Just like in his last matchup, it was clear that Vieira was getting VERY tired. He tried to grab some lazy takedowns, but with his extra stamina he easily shut those down, keeping this fight on the feet. He wasn’t necessarily landing a LOT of shots, but he was landing some BIG ones to the body and some nice, crisp jabs straight to Vieira’s nose. Thanks to all that crisp striking, he won a clear 29-28 decision.

Result

Chris Curtis def. Rodolfo Vieira by Unanimous Decision

Fight #8

Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Nate Maness

Trying to keep his undefeated record alive, one of the most dangerous Bantamweight contenders, Umar Nurmagomedov took on Nate Maness, who’s only got ONE loss in his pro career. Umar came into the UFC last year and has since grabbed two VERY impressive submission wins over Sergey Morozov and Brian Kelleher. Maness also had a perfect UFC record, heading into this week at 3-0, most recently beating a promising prospect in Tony Gravely. Maness is a great rising prospect, but it was Umar’s fight to lose. Nurmagomedov, much like his cousin Khabib, is an incredible wrestler and actually has some fairly impressive kicks in his striking arsenal. In one of Maness’ previous bouts against Gravely, he shut down the takedowns early, but was then taken down and ravaged by Gravely. He ended up winning that bout, but with Umar’s wrestling ability, he wouldn’t have made it out of the first round of that fight. This looked like it was going to be a clear win for Nurmagomedov that would likely end in another finish before making his way into the top 15.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Nurmagomedov by Finish

The fight was a little slow to start with only a couple of strikes from both men. Sadly for Maness, he made a mistake clinching up with Umar, finding himself on the bottom only 2 minutes into the fight. As expected, Umar kept that position for the entire round, working towards a submission and landing a couple of shots, easily taking the round on the cards. Wasting no time at all, Umar closed in and grabbed a takedown less than a minute into the round. With his classic, smooth wrestling, Umar worked hard towards grabbing a submission.

After getting smothered for the entire round, Maness barely squeaked through to the final round without getting finished. Maness finally landed a nice shot, but Umar returned, slamming TWO head kicks straight to Maness’ face. Then, with 3 minutes left in the fight, Umar took him down and took any chance of a victory away. To really explain how dominant this was, Maness only landed ONE significant strike in 15 minutes… ONE. With such an absurdly dominant performance, the judges had no choice but to give him the win, scoring it 30-27, 30-26 and 30-25.

Result

Umar Nurmagomedov def. Nate Maness by Unanimous Decision

The Future

Like Umar said in his interview, he’s one of the best in the division and could potentially grab a title shot within the next few fights if he continues doing what he’s doing. He’s in the most densely talented division, so it might be more than a couple of matchups, but he’s so dominant, I could easily see him having close fights with anyone in the top 10. That could mean anyone near the bottom like Font or someone like Sandhagen and Merab. Most of the entire top 10 has matchups within the next couple months, so we’ll see how all that turns out, but Umar will surely be in the conversation for MANY future matchups.

Fight #9

Thiago Moises vs. Christos Giagos

Thiago Moises seems like a UFC veteran at this point, ranked up his last bout, but he only joined the UFC in 2018. He’s gone 4-4 since then, but all of his losses have come to top contenders like Dariush, Makhachev and Ismagulov. Perhaps the most impressive part is that he got to the 4th Round against Islam and went to a decision with the other two. Giagos was also trying to work his way into the top 15. His last matchup was against one of the headliners of this card: Arman Tsarukyan. Sadly, that was a quick loss, but he brought a 4-3 UFC record into this one with dominant decision wins and a couple of losses to some of the top contenders in Drakkar Klose, Tsarukyan and none other than the champ, Charles Oliveira. I predicted this would be another close, entertaining bout and likely one of the best of the night. It was close, but I gave the edge to Moises.

The biggest factor in his favour was that matchup against Islam. Islam still ended getting his submission win, but Moises was the only person I had seen recently that actually gave Islam some problems in grappling (except for Tsarukyan). Moises lasted 4 rounds, had some good moments in the clinch and actually pieced him up on the feet quite a bit, which is impressive because Islam doesn’t tend to get hit all that much. Giagos has some great wrestling too, but he tends to get hit a lot, plus; that’s why he lost to Klose. Moises reminds me of Klose because of his pressure and striking… but Moises is better. Giagos, on the other hand, reminds me a bit of when Alexander Hernandez lost to Moises; he was big, could strike and grapple, but Moises was just too good. I thought the same thing would happen here and Moises would win a close decision.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Moises by Decision

Giagos landed a big one early, but that came as Moises shot in for a takedown. Moises didn’t get it to the ground right away, but still had Giagos pinned along the fence. From there Moises moved around, taking the back of Giagos and riding him like a backpack. It took a minute or so of maneuvering his hands, but eventually Moises got his arm under the chin and made him tap with an incredible 1st Round submission win.

Result

Thiago Moises def. Christos Giagos by Submission in the 1st Round

The Future

Moises just slipped out of the top 15 in his last fight; there’s no reason why he shouldn’t get a chance to get back in there, especially after a dominant win like this. Someone like Hooker or Ferreira would make the most sense. Instead, he actually mentioned Joe Solecki. It’s a bit of an unusual callout, but there’s no doubt that that’ll produce some of the best action of any card.

Fight #10

Josh Parisian vs. Alan Baudot

I was at a loss as to why this was scheduled to be just before the co-main event considering all the talent on this card. Neither of these men had done particularly well in the UFC before this fight. Parisian had gone 1-2 since his DWCS contract win with losses to Parker Porter and Don’Tale Mayes and a split decision win over Roque Martinez. On the other side was Alan Baudot who had gone 0-2 with a ‘no contest’ (where he was KOd in the 2nd Round). He too lost to Parker Porter, but he also got an unlucky draw of Tom Aspinall in his UFC debut. When two evenly matched, striking-heavy heavyweights meet up, literally anything could happen.

This was a complete coin toss for me. We knew Parisian would likely come in with a weight advantage of probably about 10-15 pounds, using that to his advantage in the past, stumbling Parker Porter. Sadly, because of that size, he starts to slow down quite a bit and…he can already be pretty slow. Baudot didn’t really get as tired as his fights went on, he moves a decent amount, but as soon as he got hit with anything big in his other fights, he shut down. There was a decent chance that Baudot could just use his extra stamina to beat Parisian on the cards, but with 15 minutes to land something significant, I thought Parisian had a great chance to get a finish. It should also be said that both of these men are strikers and have never faced a striker in the UFC, so we were much more likely to see a finish here.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Parisian by Finish

As predicted, Baudot was clearly the quicker fighter, but Parisian was the one who was landing early. After some back-and-forth striking, it was Baudot that landed the first big punch, dropping Parisian to the canvas. He had the chance for a quick finish, but Parisian shut it down by dragging Baudot on top of him. Amazingly, after getting MANGLED by hammer fists on the ground, Parisian got up, pinned Baudot along the fence and, for about 20 seconds straight, let loose HEAVY punches, trying to get the ref to stop the fight.

Sadly for him, the ref didn’t stop it and the fight moved to the 2nd Round. Parisian kept that momentum going, taking Baudot to the ground and hammering him with even more ground and pound. After a couple minutes of MASSIVE ground and pound from Parisian, really threatening the finish, unbelievably, Baudot got back up. From there though, Parisian dragged Alan back down and kept up the ground and pound until the ref finally stopped the fight.

Result

Josh Parisian def. Alan Baudot by TKO in the 2nd Round

Co-Main Event

Neil Magny vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov

Here we had another HUGE matchup, one between a VERY experienced UFC veteran and a dangerous, undefeated rising contender. Ranked 10th this week, Magny has been a staple in the top 15 for years. Since a layoff in 2019, he’s gone back to his incredible activity, going 5-1 since 2020 with wins over Robbie Lawler, Geoff Neal and Max Griffin, plus a loss to Chiesa. After grabbing sensational finishes in his only 3 UFC bouts, Rakhmonov grabbed himself the 15th spot in the rankings. Not only does he have a pristine 15-0 record, but he’s also grabbed a finish in EVERY win; that’s a rare, RARE achievement.

While I thought Rakhmonov would keep his undefeated record intact, I didn’t think he’d be able to finish someone as tough and experienced as Magny. Magny doesn’t tire out and tends to win his fights with his incredible clinchwork. That being said, he was dropped multiple times by Max Griffin and was taken down and controlled by Chiesa. With Shavkat’s crisp, technical, powerful striking, plus his incredible takedowns, it seemed fairly clear that he should be able to control Magny wherever the fight went.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Rakhmonov by Decision

Magny got the action going first. Sadly, that was a mistake as Rakhmonov grabbed a kick and took the dominant position on top of Magny. From there he started to smother him with wrestling and SMOKE him with some heavy ground and pound. Magny was doing a decent job of defending, but Rakhmonov was in clear control the whole time. Shavkat continued his dominance at the start of the 2nd Round, hitting Magny with a crisp combo, pinning him along the fence and dragging him back down to the ground. Just like the opening round, Shavkat completely dominated the fight on the ground. With 3 seconds left in the round, Shavkat finally locked up a deep submission, forcing Magny to tap and extending his undefeated AND finish streak to 16.

Result

Shavkat Rakhmonov def. Neil Magny by Submission in the 2nd Round

The Future

Similar to Umar, Shavkat is predicting a title shot within the next couple years. With a record like that, plus the state of the welterweight division, I have no doubt that that’ll be the case. Neil Magny is one of the best, most consistent in the division, but Shavkat made him look like an amateur. Sean Brady still needs a matchup, but Shavkat actually made a point of calling out ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. Personally, I’d say that’s the easy route up the rankings because of Thompson’s struggle with grapplers. I think if he wants to make a statement, he’ll have to take on someone like Luque or Burns.

Main Event

Arman Tsarukyan vs. Mateusz Gamrot

Once again, we had a sensational matchup in the main event. Tsarukyan, who was ranked 11th before this one, lost his debut to Islam in a decision, but then ran through all of his opponents, going 5-1 in his UFC career, seemingly gaining steam as he continues on his journey. Gamrot also lost his debut, losing to Guram Kutateladze, but was also been flawless after that with a 3-1 record, grabbing his 12th spot after finishing Jeremy Stephens and Diego Ferreira. Both of these men had the skill to get it done, but it seemed as though Tsarukyan likely had a better shot of getting there. He’s HUGE for the division, plus he has fantastic striking AND wrestling. Not only did he grab devastating KO finishes in his last two, but he actually managed to take down Islam Makhachev and spent all 3 rounds grappling with him.

To anybody that knows Islam, that’s wildly impressive. To really point out how significant that is, Islam had never been taken down in the UFC before that and I’m not sure if he’s been taken down since. Gamrot is also fairly large and has decent wrestling, but the real problem in this matchup was his striking. He struggled with the striking of both Ferreira and Holtzman. If Gamrot already struggled with their striking, plus he couldn’t actually keep Ferreira down for long, it made sense that he would have a nightmare of a time against Arman. With all of those advantages, in a 5 round matchup, I predicted Tsarukyan would grab another highlight reel finish.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Tsarukyan by Finish

The fight opened with a WILD grappling exchange with both men continuously swapping dominant positions. They went back to striking, but Tsarukyan made the first big move of the fight, dragging Gamrot to the canvas. With some of the best scrambling I’ve ever seen though, Gamrot regained control and moved back to his feet. The rest of the round was tight, but Tsarukyan was the one controlling the action with HUGE kicks and takedown attempts, taking the opening round on the cards. The 2nd Round opened with striking from both sides. Gamrot was doing better this round on the feet, but Arman was still SLAMMING those kicks straight into the body. Tsarukyan tried to throw out a couple more takedowns, but Gamrot shut them all down. Once again, another razor-thin round, but with those HUGE body kicks, Tsarukyan likely found himself up 2-0 on the cards at that point. Keeping that same strategy in the 3rd Round, Tsarukyan opened with another massive kick to the body of Gamrot.

Finally, after two rounds of trying to catch up, Gamrot stumbled Arman with a crisp combo and took him down. He didn’t stay down for long, but Gamrot maintained control along the fence and even threatened a submission for a few seconds. Tsarukyan managed to get out of it and they both moved back to some wild striking exchanges. He landed some more crisp shots, even a spinning back kick, but I’d have given that round to Gamrot. After some more striking from both men, Tsarukyan stole back the momentum, landing a clean spinning backfist to the chin of Gamrot. He tried to go for a takedown from there, but Gamrot shut that down and strated to pressure Tsarukyan.

Thanks to that pressure, Gamrot managed to take him down, this time doing some fantastic work, taking Tsarukyan’s back. After almost grabbing a shocking submission, Gamrot seemed to have tied up the fight 2-2. With his corner shutting down any idea of wrestling, Tsarukyan opened up the final round with a HUGE strike that stumbled Gamrot. Once again, stealing the momentum, Gamrot took Arman down and pinned him against the fence for a bit. They both got back up and went back to a stand-up brawl. Just like the other rounds, this one could have gone either way. Gamrot notched a couple takedowns, but Tsarukyan stumbled him a couple times. I may have given the final round to Tsarukyan thanks to his damage, but it really could have gone either way. The judges ended up going the other way, scoring it 48-47 for Gamrot.

Result

Mateusz Gamrot def. Arman Tsarukyan by Unanimous Decision

The Future

Neither man’s stock dropped after this matchup. In fact, it’s more clear than ever that BOTH of these men will be in the top 5 at some point. Tsarukyan’s only problem was his cardio; he’s insanely skilled and beat Gamrot the first half of the fight, but slowed down enough for Gamrot to take the second half. For Tsarukyan, I could see him grabbing the loser of the RDA and Fiziev matchup next month. As for Gamrot, unbelievably, he called out Justin Gaethje. Only a madman would do such a thing, but that’s what we like to see! I hope they make it happen, because that matchup would be pure insanity.

BLÜ’s Record for the Night

Prelims: 1-1

Morozov (W)

Nchukwi (L)

Main Card: 5-1

Curtis (W)

Nurmagomedov (W)

Moises (W)

Parisian (W)

Rakhmonov (W)

Tsarukyan (L)

BLÜ BONUSES

KO of the Night: Josh Parisian

Sub. of the Night: Thiago Moises

Brawl of the Night: Arman Tsarukyan vs. Mateusz Gamrot

Most Valuable Fighter

Shavkat Rakhmonov

He’s 16-0 with ALL finishes and just made one of the most consistently good fighters in the division look like he didn’t belong here. It takes a special kind of athlete to do what he’s been doing and it has to be acknowledged.

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