Islam Makhachev is impressed by the recent victory of Arman Tsarukyan, who is now in the lightweight title conversation. Nonetheless, the pound-for-pound king believes the fighter is not yet ready to face him for a rematch against him.

The two first entered the cage in 2019 when Tsarukyan made his UFC debut. As a new fighter, it couldn’t be denied that Tsarukyan gave Makhachev a tough fight, but it wasn’t enough to ensure a win. As such, in the end, Makhachev won the bout via a decision.

Now, years after that fight, Tsarukyan has made significant progress in his UFC career, with a recent win over Beneil Dariush. This KO victory slingshot him to the Top 5 of the division, and he became one of the fighters in the title conversation. With this, even with other fellows ahead of him, the Armenian-Russian made several callouts for a rematch against the champ in hopes of redeeming himself.

Makhachev, however, doesn’t think Tsarukyan is ready for such a fight despite admitting that the No. 4-ranked fighter made a remarkable performance in his last bout. The champ then responded to Tsarukyan’s prediction to knock him out in the first round by recalling he already had the chance when they first met but failed to do so. With this, Makhachev suggested that the young fighter should “train more” in order to secure such a projection.

“It was a good knockout, to be honest,” Makhachev said during the IBA Boxing event on Saturday in Dubai. “After that fight, I think he said loudly that he had won (the top contender fight). Well, he is approaching the title chance, I would say.

“He already had the chance to knock me out. But he didn’t succeed. He didn’t win a single round. Let him train more. He will grow up. If he will pass one more fight confidently, then the UFC leadership will give him this fight with me.”

On the other hand, while Makhachev will take any fight the UFC offers him, the champion is certain that he is not interested in rematches. If it is a decision for him to make, Makhachev thinks a “good way” of obtaining a win is by defeating someone new. With all that, while he won’t say no to a Tsarukyan or Charles Oliveira bout initiated by the UFC, the champ thinks a better option will be against Justin Gaethje.

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