‘Everything turned upside down’ – Islam Makhachev now unsure of next UFC title defense

For Islam Makhachev, a fight with Beneil Dariush would have been the perfect challenge for his next defense.

By: Kristen King | 3 months ago

Islam Makhachev was hoping for a new challenge in Beneil Dariush. After a successful defense against Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284 this past February, Makhachev shifted his focus to Dariush, who was vying for his first UFC championship opportunity against Charles Oliveira.

For Makhachev, a Dariush win would have given him a chance to test himself against someone who has ‘good skills — striking skills, wrestling skills and grappling skills’ in his next defense. That test may or may not come now, as Dariush suffered a first-round loss to Oliveira at UFC 289 in a performance that has seemingly set up ‘Do Bronx’ for a rematch with Makhachev. 

Islam Makhachev laments loss of potential Beneil Dariush fight

In an interview at a recent Eagle FC event, Islam Makhachev reacted to the Beneil Dariush loss to Charles Oliveira. To the reigning UFC lightweight champion, that was the worst-case scenario as far as he was concerned. 

“The fight was good,” said Makhachev (translation provided by YukaHero). “Oliveira won, but I was rooting for Dariush. I thought it would be a new challenge for me. Dariush had eight wins in a row. I don’t know. I can’t say yet if my next fight will be a rematch against Charles. We have to wait. Now Justin and Dustin will fight, and then the UFC will decide.

“Of course I want a new name on my résumé,” continued Makhachev. “It’ll be better for me. [But] if I don’t fight Oliveira now, everyone will say that I am avoiding him. I never choose my opponents. I will fight anyone the UFC gives me. I don’t think he can do anything. I’m not afraid of his grappling like the rest of the fighters. I can take him down at any time.”

Though Oliveira seems to have secured himself a rematch against Makhachev, there is another potential No. 1 contender happening in July. As the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product previously mentioned, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje are rematching for not only the vacant ‘Baddest Motherf—ker’ (BMF) belt, but also a shot at Makhachev. 

If it were up to him, then Islam Makhachev would prefer to fight Poirier next.

“I don’t know, maybe Poirier,” said Makhachev. “He has a big name in the UFC. Dariush lost, everything turned upside down. I can’t say anything for [sure] now. If he had beat Oliveira, it would have been a good fight. Dariush’s skills were highly appreciated. It would have been a good fight.”

Beneil Dariush hopes to restart title run

Despite his loss, Beneil Dariush is optimistic he can set himself up for another potential opportunity against Islam Makhachev. The No. 4 lightweight says he wants to return to the Octagon near the end of the year to turn in a ‘very good performance’.

“One or two fights, and I could be back in the picture,” said Dariush in an interview with Submission Radio recently. “I think one more fight, people will be like, ‘Oh crap, yeah, this guy’s good.’ I definitely think so. I don’t think I’m gone from the rankings, right? It’s not like I disappeared. So there’s that.

“I think what’s going to be necessary for the next fight, is the performance,” continued Dariush. “Because if I just go out there and barely win, people will be like, ‘Eh.’ But if I go out there and I put on a great performance, then people will be like, ‘OK, this guy, he still has it.’ I think that’s what I need is, like, a very good performance.”

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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