It’s not easy to get a title shot in the lightweight division—that’s a statement that any contender in the 155-pound weight class knows quite well. Beneil Dariush has put together eight wins in a row—a streak that he says has even made his peers admit that he should be fighting for a title.
UFC told Dariush he’s ‘#1 contender’ with a win
Dariush claims that a victory this weekend will clear the way for him to get a bout against current UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev. In fact, he’s been told that the “#1 contender” status was promised to him when this matchup was made.
“UFC never gives me their word. They’re very honest with me,” said Dariush during the media day for UFC 289 on Wednesday. “I call them, and when we speak it’s very clear what they want with me. It’s very clear, they don’t play games. This is the first time they’ve ever said, ‘Hey, yeah, you’re #1 contender if you win this fight.’ I just take it at their word. I’ll figure out the rest afterward. But right now, take Charles [Oliveira] out, and if they say something different we’ll talk about it then.”
As could be expected from a fighter one win away from a title shot, the Kings MMA talent is quite confident that he could dethrone the current champ. When discussing a potential matchup against Makhachev, Dariush stated this week that he is better than him in every department.
“There’s nothing he does that I can’t do better,” Dariush explained. “I know people will disagree but they used to say I can’t wrestle with these guys – last fight I showed it. Now we’re talking about jiu-jitsu. Next, it’s going to be striking. You know, I could do it all and that’s what I want to show the world. As far as Makhachev goes, I don’t see anything that he does that I can’t do better.”
Beneil Dariush thinks McGregor would get title shot with win
Lightweight is a packed division where there will almost always be a qualified contender to face the champion. But Beneil Dariush warns that a challenger he considers undeserving of a title shot could skip the line.
“I think if Conor [McGregor] wins and he beats [Michael] Chandler, I know the UFC will give him a title shot,” Dariush said. “But I don’t know if he’s really deserving of it.”
It’s not known at the moment when McGregor and Chandler will actually meet. A big roadblock to making the fight is McGregor’s re-entry into the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) drug-testing pool, a process that takes six months in total. Last month, USADA said that they were expecting McGregor to re-enter the testing pool “immediately.”
McGregor is currently unranked at lightweight, and an appearance against Chandler would give him the chance to earn his first victory since early 2020.
Dariush explains feelings behind Volkanovski getting title shot
UFC Lightweight Champion Makhachev last appeared in February, putting his belt on the line against featherweight titleholder Alexander Volkanovski. While this matchup potentially delayed a title shot for Beneil Dariush, he explained that he was okay with the booking.
“If it wasn’t Volkanovski if it was somebody else, I would be very upset,” Dariush said. “Because Volkanovski’s the pound-for-pound king, he’s defended his belt multiple times. So I understand he has the privilege to do this if he wants. And he did. It wasn’t the best timing for me, but whatever.”
Dariush is currently ranked fourth at lightweight, with his opponent this Saturday—Oliveira—up in first place. Dariush is the highest-ranked name in the division that has never competed in a title fight.
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