Arman Tsarukyan: Version of Islam Makhachev at UFC 302 ‘would be very easy fight for me’

After watching Islam Makhachev at UFC 302, Arman Tsarukyan is adamant he can beat him.

Makhachev (25-1 MMA, 14-1 UFC) retained his lightweight title with a Round 5 submission of Dustin Poirier in this past Saturday’s main event. Tsarukyan is touted to be the next title challenger, as he’ll look to avenge his UFC debut loss to Makhachev.

Tsarukyan saw Makhachev slow down against Poirier (30-8 MMA, 22-7 UFC), and thinks he’d exploit him if he got tired in their fight. Makhachev confirmed speculation that he was battling a staph infection less than a month out of the fight.

“It would be very easy fight for me,” Tsarukyan said on The MMA Hour. “I could outwrestle him (in) that fight as well because he got tired. When you’re tired, you can’t do sh*t. 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 with Volkanovski, he got tired with Dustin, and hopefully it’s going to be my key to win this fight.

Poirier hung tough, stuffing multiple takedown attempts and even busting Makhachev open with an elbow. Tsarukyan expected Poirier to perform well.

“I wasn’t (surprised),” Tsarukyan said. “I knew his heart is very good and I told everybody it’s like 60-40. Everybody talk like, ‘Oh, Islam going to win him, 100 percent. He’s not going to give him any chance,’ but I knew it’s going to be tough fight. Dustin, he’s a dog, so I wasn’t like – his defensive wrestling was super good and Islam couldn’t choke him. When he got tired in the fifth round, yeah, he got him.

“It wasn’t his best performance. He got tired and he was slow. I feel like Islam doesn’t have very good conditioning or maybe he got sick or whatever. I’m not judging him because of his last fight, I got to watch all his fights and take him serious. He’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter. I’m just going to prepare like it’s best version of Islam Makhachev. Not underestimate him. Dustin can defend his wrestling, I’m going to defend as well.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 302.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie