Arman Tsarukyan would love to opportunity to challenge reigning UFC lightweight world champion Islam Makhachev.
But first, ‘Ahalkalakets’ will have to get past top-five-ranked contender Beneil Dariush. The two men are scheduled to scrap on December 2 when the promotion heads back to The Lone Star State for a Fight Night card in Austin, Texas.
Speaking with Mike Owens in a MiddleEasy exclusive interview, Tsarukyan shared his thoughts on the well-rounded skillset that Dariush brings to the Octagon.
“Beneil is a strong fighter. He has a lot of experience,” Tsarukyan said. “He’s a good grappler. Good striking. Not bad defense from wrestling. He’s a very well-rounded fighter so that fight is going to be very interesting. I think and I believe my striking is better and my freestyle wrestling is better. I feel I’m just better.”
Dariush will be looking to bounce back from a first-round knockout loss to former 155-pound champ Charles Oliveira over the summer.
“That day, Oliveira was better so it doesn’t matter how Dariush felt or what shape he was in,” Tsarukyan replied when asked about Dariush’s loss to ‘Do Bronx’ at UFC 289. “We gotta say Oliveira was better that day. We don’t know if they fight again who is going to win, but for that day, Oliveira was better.”
Despite his lopsided loss to Oliveira, Dariush is still sitting in the No. 4 spot in the lightweight rankings, making this a perfect opportunity for Tsarukyan to get in line for a potential UFC title fight down the road.
“That win gives me a lot of opportunity to be in line to fight for the belt,” Tsarukyan said. “I’m gonna be very close and hopefully after Dariush, I’m gonna fight for the title. If not, I’ll take one more fight and win one more fight, and keep going. It doesn’t matter. I have a goal and I want to achieve my goal.”
With a win over Dariush, Tsarukyan believes he could potentially walk into a lightweight title opportunity, but he suspects he that will need at least one more win with Oliveira primed to run it back with reigning champion Islam Makhachev in 2024.
“I think yes, but you never know. Probably Oliveira is going to fight [for the title] again, but I heard Islam [Makhachev] wants to fight in the summer. Maybe after Beneil, I’m going to fight one more time and then after that I’ll be in line, but I’m not thinking about a title fight right now, to be honest. This is a very big fight for me against a dangerous fighter. Dariush is not an easy fight for me. After that fight, I’m going to talk, but now I have to be focused on Dariush.”
Arman Tsarukyan Believes Islam Makhachev Will Go Two-Up on Charles Oliveira
Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev first met for the vacant lightweight championship at UFC 280 last year. Makhachev scored a second-round submission over ‘Do Bronx’ to claim the gold. Asked who he sees coming out on top in the inevitable rematch between the two 155 icons, Arman Tsarukyan believes the result will be the same the second time around.
“Islam is going to win, but in fighting you never know. I’m 90 percent that Islam is going to win, but maybe he gets sick that day. He could feel very bad and lose. It’s a fight. You never know what’s going to happen, but if they’re both going to be in good shape Islam’s going to win. Islam can strike and wrestle. He can grapple. He’s good everywhere.”
He continued, “Against Islam Makhachev, you gotta fight. You gotta make it a dirty fight. Go forward and stop his takedowns and box him. Push him back. Don’t push you so you’re close to the cage. He’s good when he can take you down on the cage, but from the center he’s not that good. If you watched his last fight, he missed the takedown against Volkavnovski because Volkanovski was in the center.
“If it was on the cage, he definitely would have took him down.”
Tsarukyan knows a thing or two about the skills that Islam Makhachev possesses, having shared the Octagon with the ‘Dagestani Destroyer’ in April 2019. Makhachev walked away with the unanimous decision W that night.
Needless to say, Tsarukyan would love to opportunity to face Makhachev once again and potentially take the title off him in a long-awaited rematch.
“It’s the best case scenario,” Tsarukyan said of defeating Makhachev for the 155-pound crown.
Watch the full interview below: