Beneil Dariush considers himself one of the most balanced fighters in the entire UFC roster. But lately his frustration boils over when he turns to ex-lightweight champion Charles Oliveira.
His troubles with Oliveira date back almost two years when he was offered and accepted a fight against the Brazilian only to have the matchup fall apart days later. At the time, he was told Oliveira had family issues that would prevent him from competing. However, a few weeks later, “Do Bronx” accepted a fight against Tony Ferguson instead.
Fast forward to today, and Dariush is riding a heptathlon win streak that has propelled him to the top of the lightweight rankings. Still, he rarely hears Oliveira mention his name when asked about a possible resistance. To make matters worse, Oliveira was recently stripped of the UFC lightweight title after missing weight and is now considered the No. 1 contender in the division.
Lately, Oliveira has spent more time demanding a fight against Conor McGregor than considering a showdown against Dariush.
“He talks about wanting to fight Conor and he talks about how these guys never gave him a chance when he wasn’t in the top 5, blah blah blah,” Dariush continued The fighter against the writer. “We should fight in October 2020. I have a fight contract, I can post a picture of it. I was supposed to fight Charles and he pulled out of the fight and then a few months later instead of fighting me he fought Tony Ferguson. He said something about family issues and I’m not going to say, ‘Oh he didn’t fight me, I can’t believe it.’ Family comes first, I understand that. But what people did to him, he does to me.
“He was supposed to fight me, saved, ran and fought Tony Ferguson. Now, instead of fighting real competitors, does he want to fight Conor? He wants to fight Nate Diaz? That’s hypocritical. That’s the only thing that bothers me.”
McGregor is currently recovering from a broken leg he sustained in his last game against Dustin Poirier in early 2021. No definitive timeline has been set for his return to action.
McGregor is only 1-3 in his last four appearances. At first glance, his resume makes him an unlikely candidate to return after a long hiatus to take on the sport’s top lightweight. That’s just another reason why Dariush is so upset that Oliveira is watching the fight.
“I understand the media has its thing, the UFC has its part, but for him, chasing a unicorn is super frustrating,” he said. “There are two clear contenders ahead of you and you are trying to hunt a unicorn. Nobody knows when Conor will fight again. The guy might not even fight this year. Make it meaningful. It just doesn’t make sense.”
When Oliveira first mentioned McGregor after his win at UFC 274, his colleague Islam Makhachev scoffed at the suggestion, countering that he was the rightful challenger for the vacant title. However, Oliveira quickly dismissed Makhachev’s call and urged him to proceed with a fight against Dariush to determine who would fight for the title. The two were previously scheduled to fight in February before an injury to Dariush forced him to retire.
If the UFC asks, Dariush has no problem accepting the Makhachev rematch. But he also wonders if Oliveira is trying to make the matchup so he can ultimately dodge one of them.
“It makes sense logically,” Dariush said. “I really don’t know what else is out there. Don’t even say our names. I never hear him say my name as far as the fights go. I’m frustrated with myself because if I hadn’t been hurt none of this would have happened, so I’m a little frustrated with myself. That’s on top of that. But it’s possible he wants one of us to knock out the other so he only has to deal with one person.
“I think stylistically, yes [we are the toughest matchups for Oliveira]. Because if you look at the Kevin Lee fight, Kevin Lee didn’t do that well with Charles, but he did his best work against him on the ground when he stayed on top. I think he might have won a round just by being up by holding down Charles for a round. No disrespect to Kevin, but Kevin doesn’t have the jiu-jitsu, the submission, that resonates as much as I do or Islam. I think stylistically we’re a nightmare matchup for Charles. I think I’m a nightmare matchup for both of them.”
At this point, Dariush cannot say for certain what will happen next, although he would like to settle his unfinished business with Oliveira in August or September. If he needs to win one more fight to earn a title shot, so be it. But more than anything, he would like Oliveira to acknowledge the true contenders in the division waiting to face him.
“Listen, if I have to fight Islam, cool,” Dariush said. “I’ve told the UFC I’ll be done in August or September. I was told that Islam now wants to wait for the Abu Dhabi card [in October]. OK, never mind, if I have to wait until then, I’ll fight him then. But if Charles is just waiting to fight Conor, that doesn’t make sense.
“We’re both here. We’re both ready to fight for the title. It’s annoying. For now I’m just waiting to see what happens. I’m rarely frustrated because I understand that this is all a popularity contest and there’s a lot of politics involved. I get it. But it’s the first time I’ve been so frustrated with another fighter. You literally do the things you said other people did to you, so I don’t get it.”