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Javier Mendez: Beneil Dariush deserves next title shot

Islam Makhachev would defend the UFC lightweight title against Beneil Dariush if it were up to Javier Mendez.

After defeating Charles Oliveira by second-round submission at UFC 280 last weekend, Makhachev turned his attention to the first defense of his title, which appears to be against UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. In his post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White implied that Volkanovski will face another champion when he remarked, "it looks like Volkanovski is next."

“Now who is actually, in my opinion, more deserving from a true professional sport-sport? But this not a true sport, this is an entertainment-sport,” said Mendez. “So, from a true sport, Dariush, he deserves it. He 100 percent deserves the next shot. But because this is an entertainment sport, the fans want to see Alex and Islam go for it because [it’s] the pound-for-pound king vs. the new king in the lightweight division.

“Let’s see if the pound-for-pound king can take that lightweight title,” continued Mendez. “Which, hey, he’s the pound-for-pound for a reason, right? He’s cleared out his division and he keeps getting better and better. And what better way to have two guys that are actually going to be professional all the way through. They got a great camp. I’ve spoke nothing but highly about who they are as a camp and how they are as a team. And I still stick by what I say. I think they’re a great, great camp over there and they’re meeting another great camp. Let’s see how we can put it together and throw on a great fight for the fans.”

Dariush might have to face one more opponent because Volkanovski is the following in line before getting his seemingly elusive chance to compete for the crown. Mendez observed on Saturday, though, that the Kings MMA product shouldn't have to.

“Beneil really, really, really impressed me,” said Mendez. “I said, ‘Wow!’ I didn’t know the other guy. I’ve never seen the other guy at all, not one time. So I asked some of the guys around and I go, ‘Hey, what do you think?’ And they go, ‘Oh, Beneil can’t wrestle with this guy. This guy’s too good a wrestler. He’s something European — ADCC champ and he’s this champion. And I went, ‘Oh, wow.’ Then I saw Beneil and how great he performed and I saw what a champion heart he had and I said, ‘There’s your answer right there. There’s your next challenger.’”

At UFC Vegas 49 in February, Makhachev was scheduled to face Dariush, but the latter had to withdraw due to an ankle injury. If Makhachev defeats Volkanovski, perhaps Darisuh and he will be able to share the Octagon in 2023.


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