Islam Makhachev wants something else besides Arman Tsarukyan

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NEWARK, N.J. – Islam Makhachev will accept whatever challenge the promotion offers him next, but his preferences are clear.

Following UFC 302, UFC CEO Dana White called a matchup vs. Arman Tsarukyan the fight to make for Makhachev (27-1 MMA, 16-1 UFC). However, the lightweight champion much prefers a step up in division instead after his submission win Saturday over Dustin Poirier.

“Who doesn’t want to be double champion?” Makhachev told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at a post-fight news conference Sunday at Prudential Center. “This is history. How many double champions we have? This is a dream for all fighters, to get second belt.

“This is my dream. I want to be in the history and people know me like double champ. This is my dream. If I have chance, a small chance, I will get. If you want a great legacy, you have to get second belt. It’s my opinion.”

Makhachev repeatedly called for a fight at Madison Square Garden in New York and voiced enjoyment in fighting in the United States.

While Makhachev said he’d agree to fight Tsarukyan (22-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) if that’s what White wants, the prospect of fighting someone he already beat is largely unappealing.

Makhachev defeated Tsarukyan by unanimous decision in April 2019. It was Tsarukyan’s promotional debut.

“I’m ready, man,” Makhachev said. “Dana has my number. Just call me and put some new challenge. … It does not make sense when you have rematch. I need some new challenge. But if Dana want, let’s do it. No problem.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 302.

Be sure to visit the MMA Junkie Instagram page and YouTube channel to discuss this and more content with fans of mixed martial arts.

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