Morning Report: Arman Tsarukyan says Justin Gaethje ‘has to wait’ for title shot after Charles Oliveira fight announcement

The UFC lightweight division can potentially go through a large changing of the guard in the first half of 2024.

UFC CEO Dana White surprised the MMA community with recent announcements of big upcoming matchups in the 155-pound division. First, fans will be treated to the five-round non-title co-main event banger between the perennial lightweight elite Dustin Poirier and rising contender Benoit Saint Denis at UFC 299 in March. One month later at UFC 300, former champion Charles Oliveira returns with hopes of turning back another rising star in Arman Tsarukyan.

Title implications were firmly placed upon the bout by White during his announcement, claiming that the winner will be next for an allegedly injured current champion Islam Makhachev. However, Makhachev took to social media yesterday to show himself doing some workouts and mapping out his immediate future, which he wants to be a Justin Gaethje title defense in June. After that, he wants to face the Oliveira vs. Tsarukyan winner before a February 2025 defense. While Gaethje is firmly in the mix and deserving of an opportunity at gold, the 27-year-old Tsarukyan believes he has to wait now that his Oliveira bout is official.

“I think he should wait [for] us because we are going to be contender No. 1,” Tsarukyan told Daniel Cormier. “Hopefully they’re not going to book that fight for the summer and wait [for] us. After, when I win, I’m going to fight with Islam, and then we can talk about Gaethje. I feel like we are next and Gaethje has to wait [for] us. Gathje has to wait [until] October. Okay, we’re going to fight for the title in the summer.”

After his previous first-round knockout of Beneil Dariush at UFC Austin last month, Tsarukyan extended his winning streak to three and arguably launched himself to the forefront of the title contender discussion. If it wasn’t going to be him challenging Makhachev, most were in agreement that the Oliveira matchup was the perfect alternative. Now that it’s on, clarity atop the talent-rich division is finally culminating.

Despite the relatively quick turnaround that it might be going from Oliveira in April to Makhachev in June, Tsarukyan is fully prepared to make it happen and get his title shot rematch after an expected quick and painless victory over “Do Bronx.”

“If you know wrestling and jiu-jitsu, how to defend, it’s a completely different game,” Tsarukyan said. “If we’re going to do jiu-jitsu without ground and pound, of course, he can maybe get any submissions. But when you punch someone, he can’t think about like, ‘Oh, I got to get his arm,’ or whatever. He’s got to defend himself, you know? That’s why it’s so difficult. Especially with high-level fighters right now.

“To choke someone is so difficult, especially when I train with high-level fighters. To choke them you’ve got to beat them for 15-20 minutes, and then when he gets tired, you can finish. First two rounds, it’s almost impossible to choke high-level fighters. … I believe that I can do that in the first round, and I want to show everybody I’m the best here. My goal is to go there, and knock him out in the first round to show everybody I deserve that title fight.”

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Fancy KC necktie.

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Mapped out.




Still doing it.

Keep it tight.

Bam Bam.



Careful … Sneako…? Don’t know who that is, but they better watch out…

The star.


Only in Thailand.

Claudio Puelles (12-3) vs. Fares Ziam (14-4); UFC Mexico, Feb. 24

Vinicius Oliveira (19-3) vs. Yanis Ghemmouri (12-2); UFC Saudi Arabia, March 2

Jairzinho Rozenstruik (13-5) vs. Shamil Gaziev (12-0); UFC Saudi Arabia, March 2

Javid Basharat (14-0, 1 NC) vs. Aiemann Zahabi (10-2); UFC Saudi Arabia, March 2

Brendon Marotte (8-2) vs. Mohammad Yahya (12-4); UFC Saudi Arabia, March 2

Bryan Battle (10-2) vs. Ange Loosa (10-3); UFC Vegas 87, March 16

Cory McKenna (8-2) vs. Jaqueline Amorim (7-1); UFC Vegas 87, March 16

Thiago Moisés (17-7) vs. Brad Riddell (10-4); UFC Vegas 87, March 16

Angel Pacheco (7-2) vs. Caolan Loughran (8-1); UFC Atlantic City, March 30

Chidi Njokuani (22-10, 1 NC) vs. Rhys McKee (10-5-1); UFC Atlantic City, March 30

Zhang Weili (24-3) vs. Yan Xiaonan (17-3, 1 NC); UFC 300, April 13

Have to disagree with Arman on this one. Absolutely no reason at all to keep Gaethje on the sideline when that fight is happening in April and Makhachev appears to be ready to go. Not believing Uncle Dana on this one…

Thanks for reading!


Will Justin Gaethje be Islam Makhachev’s next opponent?

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