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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Mike Bohn and Ken Hathaway

Arman Tsarukyan says top-five lightweights won’t be able to duck him after UFC on ESPN 38

LAS VEGAS – Arman Tsarukyan expects his career to change completely after Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 38 main event.

Tsarukyan (18-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) gets his first octagon headliner on Saturday when he meets former KSW champ Mateusz Gamrot (20-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in a key lightweight fight at the UFC Apex. The main card airs on ESPN following prelims on ESPN2.

The additional spotlight has been something Tsarukyan has been working toward since his short-notice loss to Islam Makhachev in his promotional debut in April 2019. He brings a five-fight winning streak in the bout, and said he’s prepared to shine and announce his arrival as a genuine title threat.

“After this fight it’s going to be very different,” Tsarukyan told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC on ESPN 38 media day. “Everybody is going to talk about me. After this fight I’m going to be contender.”

Tsarukyan was beating the drum for a top 10 opponent after consecutive finishes of Joel Alvarez and Christos Giagos, but he couldn’t get any of the original opponents he wanted. Gamrot, meanwhile, was takin the same approach to land a marquee name. The two surging names were then forced to look at each other to keep active.

That was no problem for Tsarukyan, who said he intends to use the main event platform to make an example of Gamrot and show why he should get the biggest fights.

“This fight is going to be a finish,” Tsarukyan said. “I’m going to finish Gamrot and it’s going to be good fight. After this fight I’m going to talk a lot about my division, guys who don’t want to fight with me. And after this fight they cannot (not) accept fight with me.

“After this fight I should be top five, probably. No. 6 or No. 5. You guys gotta help me after this fight, talk about me a lot. I beat Joel Alvarez but my rank didn’t go very high. He’s good fighter, I beat him very easy. I hope after this fight I gotta be in top five because Gamrot, he’s a good fighter. I’ll stop him and I’ll get in top five then after this fight I want to be contender and I want to get fight from top five guys.”

The betting odds for UFC on ESPN 38 have Tsarukyan as a solid favorite over Gamrot. He thinks that analysis is apt, and intends to show it when the pair are locked inside the cage.

“He’s good fighter,” Tsarukyan said. “Tough fighter, but he’s not on my level. I’m in different level and I want to show this weekend.

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