Lightweight contender Beneil Dariush hopes to share the Octagon with lightweight champion Islam Makhachev sooner rather than later, but he admitted he couldn’t help but be frustrated at the Russian’s recent callout of welterweight king Leon Edwards.
Edwards defeated former welterweight champ Kamaru Usman for the second successive time with a majority decision victory at UFC 286 in London, and Makhachev wasted no time in jumping on social media to call out the Englishman to challenge for his 170-pound strap.
That callout irked Dariush, who questioned why Makhachev, having captured the lightweight belt, doesn’t seem overly interested in the growing queue of challengers lining up to fight for it.
“I don’t understand. Like, what about title defenses?” he told Submission Radio.
“I don’t know what’s going on with him. Why? Maybe he’s having a hard time making weight at 155 and he’s just like, ‘Eh, let’s just go to 170 and relax’.
“Honestly, I don’t get it. But I think he needs to focus on his division. There’s a lot of good fighters in his division. Maybe, in my opinion, the best division. So, I don’t know why he’s trying to run off to other divisions.”
Dariush been building a strong resume to put himself in position for a shot at the lightweight title, and he explained his frustration at the newly-crowned champion chasing opportunities outside of the 155-pound division.
“Someone showed that to me and I just rolled my eyes and I was like, ‘Guys, get this outta my face.’ It was very frustrating at that moment, and I just… I don’t know what goes through this guy’s mind. But, I get it.
“Like, you work so hard to get this belt, now you don’t wanna risk it and lose it, right? He went to Australia, he did his thing and almost lost the belt, right? The fight was very close, and now he’s thinking to himself, ‘Maybe I’ll put myself in Volkanovski’s shoes and not risk my belt and go fight for another belt’. I get the mindset, you know? You have a big reward and less risk. But this is not how you keep divisions active. This is not how you make sure the divisions are doing what they need to be doing. And, at the rate these title fights are happening, man, I feel like it’s gonna take forever to get the new guys in. There’s all these guys waiting at the door, but this is the reason why we’re not fighting. A lot of these guys are not fighting.”
Dariush faces a title eliminator with former lightweight champion Charles Oliveira at UFC 288 on May 6 in Newark, New Jersey. If he’s successful, he should be the next man up to face Makhachev, who currently does not have a fight booked. And while he stands one win away from a shot at the title, his managerial stablemate Justin Gaethje picked up a strong win of his own with a crowd-pleasing victory over surging contender Rafael Fiziev in London at UFC 286.
Dariush was suitably impressed with “The Highlight’s” performance and even went as far as saying it was Gaethje’s best showing in the Octagon.
“What a fight, man. So happy for Justin,” he said.
“He did so good. You know, I feel for Fiziev as well. He worked so hard and he got so far. But what a fight for Justin. Man, super happy for him. I love what he did.
“With Justin, if he fights patient, he is an absolute monster. Very difficult to beat. His fights that he lost, even against Khabib, it was just not being patient. If he had been more patient with Khabib, if he had been more patient with Charles, he would’ve won both those fights. So, to see him go out there and do his thing, I was stoked for him. Very, very, very good performance. Maybe his best one, in my opinion.”