Arman Tsarukyan has been an under-the-radar contender in the UFC lightweight division for some time now. But he said now is the time to break cover and face the champion for a second time, this time on even terms.
Tsarukyan defeated short-notice replacement opponent Joaquim Silva via second-round TKO at UFC Vegas 75 at the UFC Apex, and showed his gratitude to his opponent for being willing to step in where others wouldn’t.
“First of all, I want to say thank you to Silva because, you know, we couldn’t find anybody – just he accepted this fight. That’s why I appreciate it,” he told Paul Felder after his victory.
“And now I’m gonna be number one contender.”
Tsarukyan’s pedigree as a top-level lightweight has been apparent for a long time, but he has struggled to get the fights he has needed to press his championship claims. A planned matchup with Renato Moicano was set for April, but injury to the Brazilian left him chasing an alternative fight date, and a replacement opponent. Eventually, Silva signed on the dotted line, and Tsarukyan was able to compete.
His performance was a strong one as he dominated the opening round with his top-level ground game. But, he had to be on his guard in Round 2 after being clipped by the Brazilian, and needed to turn to his wrestling again to prevent himself from getting into trouble on the feet.
Round three saw Tsarukyan regain his composure and push the pace on Silva as he took his man to the mat and finished him with ground strikes to notch the 20th win of his career.
It meant that Tsarukyan improved to 7-2 under the UFC banner, with that first loss coming on his short-notice Octagon debut against Makhachev. But, despite the lack of preparation time for that fight, Tsarukyan pushed the future UFC champion hard in a losing effort as he was edged out on the scorecards.
Now, after demonstrating his abilities as a top-level lightweight, Tsarukyan said it’s time for him to get another shot at Makhachev. And he promised that facing him on a full camp would produce a markedly different result.
“When I fought Islam Makhachev, you gave me three weeks. If you give me eight weeks, I’m gonna smash him,” he said.
That bout is unlikely to be next for Makhachev, however, meaning Tsarukyan may have to pursue a contender fight in the meantime. He’s given that some thought, too, and had a couple of names in mind.
Anybody from the top five,” he said.
“Dariush, I heard he wants to come back in December, but that’s too late for me.
I heard Michael Chandler, it looks like his fight with Conor is over. They’re probably gonna give me that fight, and I’m gonna kill this guy.”
UFC Vegas 75: Official results
- Jared Cannonier def. Marvin Vettori via unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 48-46)
- Arman Tsarukyan def. Joaquim Silva via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 3:25
- Armen Petrosyan def. Christian Leroy Duncan via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Pat Sabatini def. Lucas Almeida via submission (arm triangle) – Round 2, 1:48
- Manuel Torres def. Nikolas Motta via knockout (elbow) – Round 1, 1:50
- Nicolas Dalby def. Muslim Salikhov via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 39-28)
- Alessandro Costa def. Jimmy Flick via TKO (elbows) – Round 2, 1:03
- Kyung Ho Kang def. Cristian Quinonez via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:25
- Carlos Hernandez def. Denys Bondar via technical decision (30-37, 30-37, 29-28) – Round 3, 4:59
- Tereza Bleda def. Gabriella Fernandes via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Dan Argueta vs. Ronnie Lawrence ruled a no contest (referee error) – Round 1, 2:20
- Modestas Bukauskas def. Zac Pauga via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)