Life in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Top 5 rankings isn’t easy for anyone, but No. 3-ranked Beneil Dariush has it harder than most because he’s set to face No. 4-seeded Islam Makhachev on Feb. 26, 2022. Makhachev is a staggering 21-1 and on a nine-fight UFC win streak. He’s adopted the mantle of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s successor, and thus far has been living up to the hype.
There’s plenty of perks of being on Team Khabib, and these days that seems to include Khabib helping out with the hype and trash talk.
“UFC told Islam, if [he beats] Dariush, he’s going to fight for the title,” Nurmagomedov said in an interview with ESPN. “And UFC told – you know, like what’s interesting, if Islam finishes him, they’re going to give him like double bonus. It’s very interesting. This is like just private news. I just want to share with you and fans because it’s very interesting, and UFC really, really wants this fight, and they told him if you’re going to finish him, they’re going to give him double bonus.”
Dariush doesn’t seem too fazed when it comes to the prospect of grappling with Makhachev in the cage, or Khabib through the media.
“I don’t know if I feel like I’m in competition with [Khabib], but I feel like, maybe, he’s trying to do a little bit of a drama show,” Dariush said in his own interview with ESPN. “Like when he talks about contracts and how Islam is getting a bonus to finish me and stuff like that. You know, I feel like he’s throwing a little digs in there, which, in reality, I think is funny.”
As for the suggestion that UFC is favoring Makhachev by offering him extra cash for a finish?
“In reality, I get the same thing,” Dariush revealed. “I have the same thing in my contract.… I have that double bonus in my contract. Yeah, yeah, I have the same assurances… It has nothing to do with the name of the fighter, it’s just in your contract. So, you know, drama show, everywhere you go it’s a little bit of a drama show. But, at least the way Khabib does it, it’s not like, personal. So I don’t mind it, I actually appreciate it.”
But, Dariush is pretty pragmatic when it comes to earning a title shot off a win.
“I don’t know about if I’m going to get a title shot,” he said. “Listen, with me, just because the way I am, you never know when I’m gonna get this title shot. And I don’t think it’s because Dana or Sean [Shelby, UFC matchmaker] don’t like me. I think they like me, but like, they’re businessmen. They have to make the right choice for their business; what’s gonna sell more pay-per-view, what’s gonna get more eyes on the fights, and I recognize that.
“If I continue doing what I’m doing inside that Octagon, I’m eventually gonna get the eyes and the people to open up their pocketbooks and pay for that pay-per-view,” he concluded.
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