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Arman Tsarukyan of Armenia reacts after his knockout victory over Christos Giagos in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 18, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
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Arman Tsarukyan's Next Step Is Here

Near perfect since entering the Octagon in 2019, Arman Tsarukyan plans to continue his dominant win streak at UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs Green on Saturday.

The UFC’s lightweight division houses some of the most elite athletes on the planet. Take a quick glance at the rankings, and you’ll see blockbuster names like Charles Oliveira, Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor, and Justin Gaethje, as well as the man headlining on Saturday, Islam Makhachev. However, another name that shouldn’t be overlooked is Arman Tsarukyan, who faces Joel Alvarez on this weekend’s UFC Fight Night card.

To many, Makhachev has looked unbeatable, and he has been aside from his only loss in 2015. The same can be said, however, about Tsarukyan. Largely competing in Russia from 2015-2018, Tsarukyan would amass a 13-1 record before signing with the UFC in 2019 and getting offered a fight with Makhachev in Saint Petersburg on short notice.

Despite the 10 days’ notice, the Georgian and Dagestani went back and forth for all three rounds, displaying some of the best technical wrestling the Octagon has seen. In the end, it was Makhachev who would get his hand raised, with the pair earning Fight of the Night honors.

Regardless of the result that night, Tsarukyan made a real statement to the 155-pound division with that performance because whenever we saw someone fight Makhachev, we’d usually see the Dagestani’s wrestling overwhelm and nullify whatever his opponent had planned. That wasn’t the case when Makhachev met Tsarukyan.

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Tsarukyan has been the only man to really match Makhachev’s grappling. In fact, Tsarukyan was the first man to take Makhachev down inside the Octagon. On short notice, he proved he was a complete mixed martial artist, with the striking and grappling he needed to reach the top.

After his loss to Makhachev, Tsarukyan went on to win four straight inside the Octagon, and with a recent first-round finish over Christos Giagos in September, he is looking to finally crack the Top 10.

“This fight shows who is going to be Top 10. After this fight, I’m going to have a lot of opportunity,” he said. “I can get fighters from the Top Five, or Top 10, it doesn’t matter. This is a very big fight for me.”

While he may be competing on the same card as the man that handed him his only loss inside the Octagon, Tsarukyan doesn’t put too much thought into that. In fact, he looks at that as an opportunity to showcase his growth.

SEPTEMBER 18: (R-L) Arman Tsarukyan of Armenia punches Christos Giagos in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 18, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

SEPTEMBER 18: (R-L) Arman Tsarukyan of Armenia punches Christos Giagos in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 18, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

SEPTEMBER 18: (R-L) Arman Tsarukyan of Armenia punches Christos Giagos in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on September 18, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“It’s good. I want to show how I have changed (since fighting Makhachev). I’m getting better every day. It was three years ago. Now, I’m fully changed, a different fighter. I have a lot of experience.”

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This time around, Tsarukyan has had a full training camp, five months to work on his skills and improve. With enough time to prepare, he believes he can beat anyone, even Makhachev if they were to meet again.

“After every fight, I grow up a lot. Because from every fight you get experience. After the Islam fight, I changed my game. I started to work harder than I did before him. I understood my mistakes. I have changed it now. Now, I know I’ll beat him, too. If the UFC gives me four, five weeks, I’ll beat him.”

Arman Tsarukyan Delivers The Finish He Promised | UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Spann
Arman Tsarukyan Delivers The Finish He Promised | UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Spann
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“I took the fight way early; it was short notice. Now, I want to do it right. I know if I’m going to have a full training camp, I can beat everybody,” said Tsarukyan.

While a rematch with the Dagestani wrestler almost feels inevitable, Tsarukyan is going to have to get past Álvarez on Saturday. Easier said than done.

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Álvarez’s name may not be in the rankings, but that doesn’t make him any less dangerous of a foe. Losing only one of his last 15 fights, with his last four wins being finishes, Álvarez has proven to be a formidable opponent.

But on the verge of breaking into the Top 10, and with plenty of time to train and prepare, Tsarukyan is chomping at the bit to once again show why his name should be with the likes of Makhachev, Gaethje, and Oliveira. It’s a process that won’t be rushed, as he will enter the Octagon on Saturday calm, collected, and determined.

UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs Green took place on Saturday, February 26, 2022, live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. See the Final ResultsOfficial Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive all of the action on UFC Fight Pass.