The 15-1 Saint Denis is on a 5-fight winning streak after dropping his UFC debut in October 2021 and hasn’t lost in a lightweight contest to date. He boasts a 100 percent finishing-rate and most recently added two of his best finishes to his resume: a TKO win over Thiago Moisés in a Fight of the Night effort and a first-round, head-kick knockout of Matt Frevola at UFC 295 in New York City. Although the lightweight division is one of the most difficult ladders to climb, Saint Denis’ run of five wins in 17 months catapulted him into a chance at the thick of the title picture.
Not to be outdone, the Oliveira-Tsarukyan matchup was touted as a “No. 1 contender fight” as Islam Makhachev recovers from a lingering injury. Oliveira bounced back from his title-fight loss to Makhchev at UFC 280 in October 2022 with a statement-making TKO win over Beneil Dariush at UFC 289. The first-round finish was enough to get Oliveira back into a title fight with Makhachev at UFC 294, but a cut sustained less than two weeks before the fight rendered him unable to compete.
While Oliveira has dominated the title conversation over the last few years, Tsarukyan is the freshest face in its picture. The American Top Team representative made his UFC debut in April 2019 with a Fight of the Night loss to Makhachev, a fight many are hopeful to see booked once again with gold on the line. Since then, Tsarukyan is 8-1 with his lone loss coming via split decision to Mateusz Gamrot in a main event. Four of his last five victories all came before the judges’ scorecards, and none more impressively than his first-round knockout of Dariush barely a minute into their headliner in Austin, Texas. Tsarukyan, 27, has long been seen as a future contender, and he gets to prove it 10 times over if he can take out “Do Bronx” in a spotlight event.
White mentioned Makhachev’s return is expected “this summer.” Stay tuned to UFC.com for any updates and additions to future fight cards.