HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – Beneil Dariush believes he’s set to face one of the most well rounded fighters in the division.
Dariush will meet Islam Makhachev on Feb. 26 in the main event of UFC Fight Night, and he sees the grappling ace as one of the toughest tests at 155 pounds.
Versatile in every aspect of the game himself, Dariush (21-4-1 MMA, 15-4-1 UFC) also sees lightweight champion Charles Oliveira (31-8 MMA, 19-8 UFC) as one of the biggest threats in the division.
“I believe the most complete guys in our division are Islam and Charles,” Dariush told MMA Junkie Radio. “I think those are the two most complete guys. So, I think those will be my most difficult matchups, but a good game plan can mess up anybody. No matter how good you stylistically match up, If someone can execute the game plan, it changes the game.”
Heading into his pivotal No. 1 contender clash with Makhachev (21-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC), Dariush is riding an impressive seven-fight winning streak, most recently dominating former interim lightweight champ Tony Ferguson at UFC 262. Prior to his win over Ferguson, Dariush engaged in wild, bonus-winning affairs, so he wasn’t surprised to see people critiquing him for following a thorough game plan against Ferguson.
“I had like five fights in a row where it was like finishes, bonuses – whether it would be performances, whether it would be ‘Fight of the Night,’” Dariush said. “That was my first ‘Fight of the Night’ with Diego (Ferreira) and then I had the Tony fight and then people were like, ‘Ah, this guy. He fights so safe.’ The thing is, every fight I was supposed to have a game plan, and half the time I’d follow the game plan, and things would go well, and the other half of the time, I’d forget the game plan, and things still went well.
“So the Tony fight, we followed the game plan 100 percent. Now that everybody keeps talking like this, I’m like, you know what? Maybe I’ll just toss it all in the air and just – let’s see who could dig deeper. Let’s see who’s willing to just go further, and if it comes out impressive, great. If not, it’s gonna be a war either way.”