According to the numbers, Beneil Dariush should be Islam Makhachev's first championship contender. At UFC 280, Dariush defeated Mateusz Gamrot with a dominant victory to extend his winning streak to eight matches.
However, a prospective super fight between Makhachev and Alexander Volkanovski buried his resume. The forthcoming UFC 284 event in Perth will feature a matchup between the two champions who have both indicated interest in doing so.
Dariush is therefore compelled to express her frustration. His UFC 280 media day was held on, the 33-year-old said:
"It still sucks. Being backup, losing that positions sucks. Losing the title shot sucks. It’s all as crappy as it gets but I understand why they’re doing what they’re doing."
Since the Dagestani duo has turned their attention toward the unbeaten featherweight champion for the first title defense, Dariush believes he has three good choices.
“I guess right now my options are the winner of Dustin Poirier (and Michael Chandler), Charles (Oliveira), or (Rafael) Fiziev,” Dariush said on Morning Kombat. “Those are the three options. … Those are great fights, so let’s just figure this out and move forward.”
Oliveira had been supposed to fight Dariush in October 2020, but the fight was called off when Oliveira withdrew for unspecified reasons. In February, he was scheduled to take against Makhachev, but he had to cancel due to an ankle ailment.
Oliveira recently defeated Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler in title fights, while Rafael Fiziev, who is on a roll, has his sights set on Justin Gaethje, a former title challenger who is presently out due to nose surgery. Whoever Dariush faces next, he intends to turn around quite quickly.
It's no secret that Dariush tried to book himself against the two former lightweight championship contenders before UFC 280. The Assyrian-American boxer admitted that neither man is a match that the matchmakers are excited about for him. Dariush recently spoke with Morning Kombat's Luke Thomas and said the following:
"I've tried fighting Chandler and Poirier and I haven't really gotten much of a response back, so I'm not gonna really chase that fight. As far as the top five goes, I'm trying to think who's available."
Dariush stated that he will not compete against Rafael dos Anjos and Justin Gaethje, two athletes he regards as close friends. In light of this, Rafael Fiziev and Arman Tsarukyan have emerged as Dariush's top two choices in the UFC lightweight division. Dariush appears to be leaning toward a confrontation with Fiziev out of the two.
"That leaves me with Fiziev. That'd be a fun fight. I would really enjoy that fight because, as far as the striking goes, you know he's gonna put pressure on me. And he's one of the few people who can put pressure on me."
Dariush asserts that he fully comprehends the UFC's continued preference for larger stars over him. Despite this, he is pledged to obtain the title shot the traditional way: by defeating everyone else.