Arman Tsarukyan willing to fight teammate Dustin Poirier, prefers Charles Oliveira or Justin Gaethje next

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Arman Tsarukyan is open to fighting Dustin Poirier next, even though they currently both train at American Top Team.

Tsarukyan scored the biggest win of his career to close out 2023, knocking out Beneil Dariush in 64 seconds in the main event of UFC Austin. The lightweight title picture is currently log-jammed, with both Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje waiting for a crack at champion Islam Makhachev, but Tsarukyan hopes that his win over Dariush was so good, he might skip to the front of the line.

“Islam had same situation,” Tsarukyan said on The MMA Hour. “He never beat top-five fighters before he fought for the title. Hopefully, I’ll already be No. 4. That’s why I’m waiting for a call from my manager and he’s going to be like, ‘Arman, you’re fighting for the title.’ This is the best-case scenario for me.”

“[Oliveira] pulled out from the last fight, beat Dariush, and lost to Islam,” Tsarukyan added. “It’s like 99 percent he’s going to lose to Islam. If they want to see that fight, go ahead, but if they want to see new generation, new fighter, they’ve got to put me on that fight. I’m going to show the world who is the best in our division. I’m going to give him the [most] competitive fight of his life.”

Tsarukyan and Makhachev previous fought at UFC Saint Petersburg in 2019 when Tsarukyan made his UFC debut, stepping in on short notice. Makhachev won the fight by unanimous decision, but Tsarukyan impressed given that he was only 22 years old at the time.

Unfortunately for Tsarukyan, the rematch is likely going to have to wait. UFC CEO Dana White has already said Oliveira has the next shot at Makhachev, with the two rumored to be facing each other at the upcoming card in Saudi Arabia in March. That leaves Tsarukyan with few other options, and one of those options is American Top Team teammate Dustin Poirier. But while it wouldn’t be his first choice of opponent, Tsarukyan says if the UFC wanted it, he would take that fight.

“Yes, I would, but to be honest, I don’t want to fight with him,” Tsarukyan said. “He lost last fight. It doesn’t make sense to fight with him. If I beat him, people say, ‘Oh, he just lost last fight. How do you want to fight for the title?’ I need someone who definitely after that fight I’m going to get title fight. It’s like, Gaethje or Oliveira. So if Oliveira thinks he’s No. 1 contender and he’s got a fight, let’s fight and let’s figure out who is No. 1. If he wins, he can go to the title. If I win, I’ll go.

“[Poirier] is a legend. I respect him. He’s tough and he won interim title. Big deal. He beat a lot of good people and he’s very good fighter. Especially to watch his fights is always exciting. I’m just telling, it doesn’t make sense to fight him because if I win, people are going to say he just lost to Gaethje. But if I beat Oliveira or Gaethje I’m like, 99.9 percent to fight for the title.”

As one of the best and biggest gyms in the world, American Top Team has run into this issue several times in recent years. Famously, ATT teammates and sometimes training partners Robbie Lawler and Tyron Woodley fought each other for the welterweight title at UFC 201, and infamously, the legendary feud between Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington began when the two were training partners at the gym.

Tsarukyan says that if it came down to it, the gym is in fact big enough for the both of them, but says he’d much rather fight current BMF champion Justin Gaethje instead.

“He has to take this fight,” Tsarukyan said. “Who does he want to fight?

“Maybe we can fight for the BMF title? Why not? He can make money, I can make money. He’s a confident guy. He’s got to take this fight and make money, and give me that belt. I want to get two belts.”

Unfortunately for Tsarukyan, that may not come to pass either. Gaethje won the BMF title by knocking out Poirier in their rematch at UFC 291 in July, and has since said he intends to wait for his own shot at the lightweight title. But if the UFC does ultimately decide to force his hand, Tsarukyan has an idea for what should happen.

“I would like to fight at UFC 300, because I think it’s going to be the biggest card the past five years,” Tsarukyan said. “It’s kind of a dream, because when I was young, I just had a couple of fights, and I was watching Gegard Mousasi — because he’s also Armenian — and he was fighting on UFC 200 and the canvas was yellow. I said, ‘Oh my god, so cool.’ I can imagine if I’m going to fight UFC 300, then UFC 400. I’m young. I just became 27 years old. I can fight in 300, 400, and maybe 450.”

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