Arman Tsarukyan eyes first-round KO of Charles Oliveira at UFC 300, wants Islam Makhachev title fight in June

Arman Tsarukyan is knocking on the door of a shot at the UFC lightweight title, and is planning on making an undeniable statement to secure his opportunity.

At UFC 300, the promotion’s big milestone event on April 13 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Tsarukyan (21-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) will face former champion Charles Oliveira in what UFC CEO Dana White has labeled as a No. 1 contender fight. Both are coming off first-round finishes of Beneil Dariush, and Tsarukyan is planning on doing the same to Oliveira (34-9 MMA, 22-9 UFC).

On paper, the fight appears to be a clash of styles between Tsarukyan’s freestyle wrestling and Oliveira’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu. However, the Armenian lightweight told Daniel Cormier and Chris Weidman that he’s not necessarily worried about what “Do Bronx” presents on the ground in an MMA fight.

“If you know wrestling and jiu-jitsu, how to defend, it’s a completely different game,” Tsarukyan said in an interview on Cormier’s YouTube channel. “If we’re going to do jiu-jitsu without ground and pound, of course, he can maybe get any submissions. But when you punch someone, he can’t think about like, ‘Oh, I got to get his arm,’ or whatever. He’s got to defend himself, you know? That’s why it’s so difficult. Especially with high-level fighters right now.

“To choke someone is so difficult, especially when I train with high-level fighters. To choke them you’ve got to beat them for 15-20 minutes, and then when he gets tired, you can finish. First two rounds, it’s almost impossible to choke high-level fighters. … I believe that I can do that in the first round, and I want to show everybody I’m the best here. My goal is to go there, and knock him out in the first round to show everybody I deserve that title fight.”

UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev recently laid out his own 2024 timeline, which included a plan to fight Justin Gaethje in June, followed by the winner of Tsarukyan vs. Oliveira in November. Tsarukyan is not on board with that plan, and thinks the champ should wait until UFC 300 before booking a fight in the summer.

“I think he should wait (for) us, because we are going to be contender No. 1,” Tsarukyan said. “Hopefully they’re not going to book that fight for the summer, and wait (for) us. After, when I win, I’m going to fight with Islam, and then we can talk about Gaethje. I feel like we are next and Gaethje has to wait (for) us. Gathje has to wait (until) October. OK, we’re going to fight for the title in the summer.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie