Beneil Dariush has had to wait patiently for an opportunity to fight for the UFC lightweight title, and on Saturday night at UFC 289 he faces a former champion believing that victory should eliminate all doubt over what’s next for him.
Dariush faces Charles Oliveira in the co-main event of UFC 289 in a bout that could well send the winner into a championship fight with reigning 155-pound king Islam Makhachev. Dariush is the highest-ranked lightweight not to have fought for the title before and, speaking to Submission Radio ahead of the matchup, he revealed the UFC had assured him that a title shot would be next if he gets past “Do Bronx” this weekend.
“Fortunately, the UFC did give me their word, which is not usual for them,” he said.
“I’ve asked, I think after the Tony (Ferguson) fight, I thought maybe they would. And I said, no problem. After the Gamrot fight, before the Gamrot fight, I asked, ‘Hey, if I win this fight, I get the title shot, right?’. And I think it was Sean (Shelby), and Sean gave me this spiel, like, ‘Well, we don’t know what tomorrow brings. What if Khabib comes back? Or what if Volkanovski wants to fight? And there you go, Volkanovski did fight. So yeah, they didn’t give me that spiel. They said, ‘Yeah, you’re the number one contender.’”
To get that status, Dariush will have to defeat Oliveira, whose 11-fight win streak in the Octagon was halted by Makhachev at UFC 280. Now Oliveira is looking to bounce back with victory over Dariush as he looks to earn himself a return date with the Russian.
But Dariush is heading into the matchup with confidence, and said that when it comes to the grappling side of the sport, he is operating on a different level to the former champion.
“I started out in grappling. I was a young grappler and I was coming up in the ranks, and Charles Oliveira, (I) had never even heard of him in grappling. I first noticed him in MMA. But in terms of grappling, I think if we competed, either 10 out of 10 or 9 out of 10 times, I’d beat him in grappling. I think he’s very good at grappling, but we wouldn’t be in the same ballpark.”
That belief in his skillset is something he’d love to showcase on fight night.
“I mean, yeah, of course I’m gonna show it,” he said.
“There’s no fight with Charles Oliveira where grappling doesn’t take place, and I think somewhat with me as well. So, of course I’m gonna grab him and then we’re gonna know what life’s all about.”
It’s a matchup with high stakes, with one man looking to earn his first shot at UFC gold, while the other seeks to return to the lightweight summit after losing his crown. As the man looking to make his first bid for champion status, Dariush knows he has to get things spot-on in order to earn his shot, and perfection is central to his pre-fight planning.
“The gameplan is to be defensively and offensively perfect,” he explained.
“(It’s) where I don’t move forward without proper planning. I don’t move forward just to move forward. Every single inch that I take or I take back is with a reason and with a purpose. And so that is why the goal for me is to dominate this fight. That is my goal.
“I’m not saying that’s how it’s gonna be, but my plans, my goals for this fight are, he does not get anything from me, and that is my goal for this fight.”