Arman Tsarukyan is considered by many to have been Islam Makhachev’s toughest recent test
Tsarukyan says he is the only man who can test Makhachev. © Jeff Bottari / Zuffa LLC
UFC star Arman Tsarukyan has asserted that he is the man to dethrone reigning lightweight champion Islam Makhachev.
Armenian-Russian Tsarukyan plans on moving one step closer towards his goal this weekend, when he faces Russia’s Damir Ismagulov in a keenly anticipated showdown in Las Vegas.
Tsarukyan is widely considered to have been Dagestani star Makhachev’s toughest test in the UFC in recent years (save for the flash knockout Makhachev suffered in just his second UFC test seven years ago), when they met in a high-level back-and-forth battle in St Petersburg in April 2019.
The performance was made all the more impressive by the fact that the fight was Tsarukyan’s first in the UFC.
And while it was Makhachev who earned the nod from the judges on that occasion, speaking to the media in Las Vegas ahead of his clash with the 24-1 Orenburg native Ismagulov, Tsarukyan was adamant that a rematch with the seemingly untouchable Makhachev would produce a different outcome second time around.
Just rewatched Islam Makhachev vs. Arman Tsarukyan and that fight was fantastic.The wrestling was ridiculously high level. That’s a fight they got to run back in the future for sure. pic.twitter.com/9MTt62Gypv
— Alex Behunin (@AlexBehunin) September 22, 2021
“Islam is on a different level,” said Tsarukyan of the 155lbs champion, who earned the world title with a second-round submission of Charles Oliveira in October in what was his 11th straight win.
“His wrestling is good, his striking is good.”
But these are credentials also owned by the 26-year-old Tsarukyan, and he suggested that his recent improvements have made him a far sterner challenge than he was when he walked to the cage against Makhachev in Russia three years ago.
“I know one guy who can beat him: it’s me.”