UFC star ‘turns down offer’ to help rival prepare for Makhachev title fight – Reuters

Arman Tsarukyan says he was asked to help Australian Alexander Volkanovski with his preparations

Armenian-Russian UFC fighter Arman Tsarukyan says he turned down an offer to help Alexander Volkanovski prepare for his upcoming lightweight title fight against Islam Makhachev.

Featherweight champion Volkanovski is aiming to join a rarefied group of UFC ‘double champions’ when he takes on reigning 155-pound titleholder Makhachev in the main event of UFC 284 on home soil in Perth in February.

According to Tsarukyan – a man who gave Makhachev a stern test during their lightweight bout in St Petersburg in 2019 – Volkanovski’s representatives have reached out to sign him as a sparring partner for the Aussie.

« He tried to connect me to his training camp », Tsarukyan told Match TV. « I refused, because it was useless, I understood that at the moment I was not training actively. I did not even ask for the conditions.

Tsarukyan, 26, said he was contacted by his manager and another friend about a possible connection to Volkanovski, as well as an anonymous contact in the United States.

« I don’t think it makes sense for me to be on his side even though there are financial benefits. If I had preparation, if I understood that I would go to Australia as a substitute [for the fight]then I would most likely go.

« But I planned a vacation this year, I haven’t been home for 8 or 9 months. »

Tsarukyan is 6-2 since his UFC debut against Makhachev in 2019, and some impressive performances have seen him as a potential future contender for the lightweight title.

Tsarukyan was last in action in December, when he picked up a unanimous decision victory over Russian Damir Ismagulov – handing him his first defeat in 20 fights.

Tsarukyan finds himself at No. 9 in the UFC 155-pound rankings, while Volkanovski will be aiming to topple the man at the top of the list – Makhachev.

Volkanovski, 34, was prompted to step up after topping the featherweight rankings with an iron fist.

The current pound-for-pound king of the UFC, he’s undefeated in 12 fights since joining the promotion – and his last 22 overall.

Makhachev, meanwhile, will venture into enemy territory for the first defense of the title he won by submitting Brazilian Charles Oliveira at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi in October.

Russian champ Makhachev signs deal to fight UFC pound-for-pound king

Dagestan are on an 11-game winning streak and have been backed by mentor and friend Khabib Nurmagomedov to usher in a new era of dominance in the division.

Tsarukyan said he saw the fight as going in Makhachev’s favor but warned the Aussie could pose a threat if he was able to keep the fight on its feet and avoid Makhachev’s vaunted ground game.

« [Volkanovski] defended the [featherweight] title so many times, he is experienced, powerful on the feet. He can’t be written off, for some reason people greatly underestimate him,” said Tsarukyan.

“I would give it a rating of 40/60. Forty to Volkanovski and 60 to Islam.

Russian UFC champion promises to 'freak out' his challenger

Volkanovski claimed during a recent podcast appearance with former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping that he would love the chance to « to go out » Makhachev – knowing his reputation and that of his local man, Khabib.

“The challenge, the opponent I have, that excites me more. Going for that champion and knocking out someone like Islam is really what people are going to remember,” said the Australian.

« A lot of people think he’s unstoppable right now, but I’m going to show you he’s stoppable and I can’t wait to get out there and do my thing. »

In response, Makhachev swore that his opponent « panic » within 15 seconds of being brought down.


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