AUSTIN, Texas – Arman Tsarukyan made a big statement Saturday, and he’s hoping to turn that into a title shot.
The rising lightweight contender put away Beneil Dariush in devastating fashion in the main event of UFC on ESPN 52. Tsarukyan (21-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) needed a little more than a minute to connect a right hand on Dariush (22-6-1 MMA, 16-6-1 UFC) and put him out cold.
Afterward, Tsarukyan called for a shot at lightweight champion Islam Makhachev.
“Sure, I was expecting (the knockout),” Tsarukyan told reporters at the UFC on ESPN 52 post-fight news conference at Moody Center in Austin, Texas. “When they gave me the fight, I was thinking, ‘I have to knock him out in the first round and call out Islam and get a title fight.”
Tsarukyan and Makhachev have history. Tsarukyan lost to the current champion in 2019 in his UFC debut when he stepped in as a replacement. Yet despite taking on a top contender on short notice, and at just 22, Tsarukyan gave Makhachev one of his toughest fights.
Tsarukyan said he wouldn’t have called for a rematch against Makhachev if he hadn’t delivered such an impressive win against Dariush.
“Charles (Oliveira) knocked him out, and if I won by decision, how am I going to fight for the title?” Tsarukyan said. “But I knocked him out faster than Charles, and he didn’t take me down like he did with Charles. I performed better than Charles. Charles already had the opportunity, so it’s my time right now.”
Oliveira was supposed to fight Makhachev in October, but the Brazilian suffered a cut two weeks prior to UFC 294 and was replaced by featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, who lost the fight by knockout in a rematch and second attempt to become a two-division titleholder. Oliveira is hoping to have the next title shot, but so is Justin Gaethje, who knocked out Dustin Poirier at UFC 291 in July to win the BMF title.
When asked what he would like next if he were to get passed up by Oliveira or Gaethje, Tsarukyan wasn’t too sure about what the next step would be.
“If they’re not going to give me a title shot, then we have to figure it out. But hopefully they give me a title fight and that’s it.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 52.