Arman Tsarukyan predicts first-round knockout of Charles Oliveira at UFC 300

Arman Tsarukyan plans to make it a quick night of work at UFC 300.

The lightweight contender meets Charles Oliveira on this Saturday’s pay-per-view main card in Las Vegas, and though he has great respect for the former UFC champion, he plans to score a fast finish to convince matchmakers that he’s the man to challenge for the title next.

“It’s going to be a crazy fight because [Oliveira] knows wrestling, he knows jiu-jitsu, he knows how to strike,” Tsarukyan said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I don’t even know what he wants to do during the fight; same as him, he doesn’t know what I’m going to do, wrestle him or strike him. If he’s going to miss punches, he’s going to wrestle. Me too, if I miss punches, I’m going to wrestle, so it’s going to be like a scramble fight.

“So [I’m] excited to fight and everyone who knows MMA is going to watch this fight. We are both complete MMA fighters. But my prediction is a finish in the first round, TKO.”

Tsarukyan has the track record to back up those words. The 27-year-old sports an impressive 8-2 UFC record, with four of his past five wins coming by way of knockout. This past December, he needed just 64 seconds to put away Beneil Dariush via strikes.

Oliveira is also coming off a first-round finish of Dariush, and his list of highlights rivals that of any fighter in UFC history. “Do Bronx” holds the record for most UFC finishes with 20, and he won the lightweight title amid an incredible 11-fight win streak that was stopped by current champion Islam Makhachev.

Both fighters eye a rematch with Makhachev — Makhachev defeated a debuting Tsarukyan by decision in April 2019 — so Tsarukyan wasn’t surprised when he was asked to go through Oliveira to get it.

“It’s like a dream fight,” Tsarukyan said. “[Oliveira] was the champion. For me, it’s like a fight for the belt because he was the champion, he defended his belt, and he’s No. 1, especially this fight, it’s [for] contender No. 1. I was super excited, super happy, and I couldn’t sleep a couple of days after that news.”

“I was expecting Gaethje or Oliveira because I was top five and I’m just one guy who is new in the top five,” Tsarukyan added. “They need new faces. So if I win, definitely I’m going to be contender No. 1. I think everybody wants to see the rematch, me and Islam, because it was so close. Not the Oliveira and Islam rematch, because Islam beat him easy, but he couldn’t beat me easy. It was a Fight of the Night and the next fight is going to be maybe the same, but I’m going to be the winner.”

Should Tsarukyan get another crack at Makhachev, he expects to become just the second fighter to defeat the indomitable champion, who currently sports a 25-1 MMA record. He believes he would be more successful than Oliveira, given how the Brazilian star was put away fairly decisively in the second round by Makhachev.

There are no guarantees in MMA, but Tsarukyan is trusting UFC CEO Dana White to make the right call if he takes Oliveira out.

“Arman Tsarukyan vs. Islam Makhachev, definitely,” Tsarukyan said. “When I beat Charles Oliveira, definitely I’m going to be the No. 1 contender.

“This fight, Dana White said, this is a contender fight. The winner is going to fight Islam, me or Oliveira is going to fight with Islam. Definitely.”

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