Dana White won’t say if UFC 289 co-main is a title eliminator

UFC President Dana White isn't saying for sure if Saturday's lightweight bout will determine who is next for Islam Makhachev.

By: Jack Wannan | 4 months ago
Dana White won’t say if UFC 289 co-main is a title eliminator
Charles Oliveira says he's "next" with a win on Saturday. But is he actually? For now, we don't know. | IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

This weekend, top-ranked lightweight Charles Oliveira will take on rising contender Beneil Dariush in the co-main event of UFC 289. The winner will become one of the top names in the division. Oliveira could either keep his #1 spot at 155 pounds, or Dariush could potentially springboard up to that position with a win.

But will a victory this weekend get them a title shot? If you ask the UFC President Dana White, there’s no guarantee.

Dana White: ‘We’ll see what happens’

When questioned about whether the fight this weekend between Oliveira and Dariush will determine who is next in line for UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev, promotional president White didn’t have an answer.

“I have no idea,” said White at the UFC 289 press conference on Thursday night. “We’ll see how the fight goes on Saturday, but yeah. It obviously makes a lot of sense. Right here right now, it makes a lot of sense. We’ll see what happens.”

Beneil Dariush hopes to face Islam Makhachev next

Both Dariush and Oliveira have their eyes on a title shot this weekend. Dariush has been on a winning streak since 2018, having put together eight wins in that time. He notably beat Mateusz Gamrot last year and previously overcame names like Tony Ferguson and Diego Ferreira.

On Wednesday, during the UFC 289 media day, Dariush explained that UFC gave him “their word” when his upcoming matchup was made, telling him that he would be the #1 contender if he won the fight.

However, he also mentioned that he believes Conor McGregor would be given a title shot if he scored a win over Michael Chandler – a matchup that has yet to be officially booked but has been hyped up by the UFC for months.

“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.”

Makhachev’s next matchup is not known at the moment. However, if it will be McGregor, that might be sometime down the line.

McGregor and Chandler are current coaches on The Ultimate Fighter, which aired its second episode this week. The expectation for long has been that they will fight eventually, although the bout has yet to be set for an event yet. Part of the delay was the fact that McGregor has to re-enter the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing pool, which takes about six months. The agency said last month that they were expecting McGregor to begin that process “immediately.”

Charles Oliveira proclaims ‘I’m next’ for title shot if successful at UFC 289

Oliveira, like Dariush, also believes that a win this weekend would put him into the title picture once again. “I’m next,” he said to MMA Junkie in a recent interview.

It wasn’t long ago that Oliveira was fighting for a belt or even had one around his waist. He became champion in 2021, stopping Chandler in the second round of a bout. He defended his title later that year as well, submitting Dustin Poirier in the third round with a rear naked choke.

But in 2022, trouble on the scale and missing weight for a lightweight title fight caused Oliveira to vacate his title before facing Justin Gaethje. While Oliveira won that fight, he excited UFC 274 without a title to his name anymore.

Oliveira’s most recent appearance was his sole loss since 2017. In a match for the then-vacant lightweight title, Oliveira was submitted in the second round by Makhachev. He hopes that a victory this weekend against Dariush could give him a second crack at Makhachev and lead him to a second reign on top of the division.

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About the author
Jack Wannan
Jack Wannan

Jack Wannan is a reporter for Bloody Elbow. He joined the site in 2023 after previously writing for MMA-Prospects.com and Knockdown News. He is currently in the process of earning a bachelor's degree in journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University.

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