Arman Tsarukyan Calls Islam Makhachev ‘Slow’ & Predicts Easy Fight

Arman Tsarukyan believes he could have easily defeated Islam Makhachev at UFC 302 due to Makhachev’s poor conditioning, and while he respects Makhachev’s ambitions to move up a weight class, Tsarukyan feels the champion should first defend his lightweight title against more contenders.

Arman Tsarukyan thinks he would’ve had an easy time with Islam Makhachev at UFC 302.

On Saturday, Makhachev successfully defended his UFC lightweight title. He secured a fifth-round submission win over Dustin Poirier in the main event.

Though Makhachev is the No. 1 Pound-for-Pound fighter in the world, his performance received some criticism. Fans noted the difficulty he had with Poirier. Tsarukyan agrees it wasn’t the champ’s best night at the office.

“It wasn’t the best performance,” Tsarukyan said on The MMA Hour. “He got tired and he was slow. I feel like Islam doesn’t have very good conditioning. Or maybe he got sick or whatever."

"But I’m not judging him just because of this last fight," he continued. "I’ve got to watch all his fights and take him serious. He’s [the] No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter."

"I’m just going to prepare [for] the best version of Islam Makhachev. I’m not going to underestimate him or just think, ‘Dustin can defend his wrestling, I’m going to defend as well.’ I’m going to do my work and I know what I’ve got to do.”

And apparently what he has to do is cardio.

As Tsarukyan continued talking about UFC 302, he noted that if he was the one fighting Makhachev instead of his American Top Team teammate, the outcome would have been different.

“It would be a very easy fight for me,” Tsarukyan said. “I could out-wrestle him that fight as well, because he got tired. When you’re tired, you can’t do shit. Even if you have the best skills in the world, if you’re tired, you’re done."

“All his five-round fights he got tired as well,” Tsarukyan added. “He got tired versus Volkanovski, he got tired versus Dustin. Hopefully that’s going to be my key to win this fight, because of my cardio.”

Tsarukyan may not get to test his theory next.

While the Georgia-born Armenian fighter is currently the top-ranked lightweight contender, Makhachev has his sights set on bigger game. Following his UFC 302 win, the champion called for his opportunity to move up and challenge for the welterweight title.

And while Tsarukyan doesn’t actually begrudge Makhachev that, he also says it’s a bit premature.

“The 170 fight, it’s a more hyped fight. I understand,” Tsarukyan said. “This is a better fight. If the UFC offers him to fight 170, of course if I were him I would fight for the double belt. It’s history. He can make history."

"But I feel like he doesn’t deserve that yet. He’s got to beat a couple more fighters at 155 and then go to 170. But we’ll see.”

So far, it seems like Tsarukyan will get his wish. UFC CEO Dana White was non-committal about giving Makhachev a welterweight title shot. Even the champion agrees that if UFC wants to run the Tsarukyan rematch next, he’ll happily do so.

According to Tsarukyan, there have already been rumors about a possible timeline: UFC’s annual trip to New York in November.

“He wants to fight in New York, Madison Square Garden,” Tsarukyan said. “That’s the best-case scenario for me. It’s one of the best places in the world for fighting. It’s a historic place, Madison Square Garden. A lot of guys have fought there, boxers, a lot of events have been there. I want to fight there once in my life.”


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