UFC 248 kicks off this weekend, March 7th, from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. On the PPV portion of the main card, 17-4-1 lightweight Beneil Dariush will face the 11-1 Drakkar Klose. Dariush is currently on a three-fight winning streak, submitting his last two opponents to earn two performance bonuses. Bloody Elbow caught up with Dariush to discuss how his grappling stacks up against the 155-pound division. He also credits his upcoming opponent for being a smart fighter, but also believes he has the tools to get a finish. With a win on Saturday, Dariush states that he is eyeing a top-10 matchup in his next go, and also speaks on how he used his bonus money to pay for his wedding.
- Congratulations on getting married recently. Were you actually in training camp while you tied the knot?
“Yeah, February 1st. So, three weeks ago.”
- Were you able to make it without any black eyes, bumps, or bruises?
“No, I had a black eye.”
- What did the wife have to say about that?
“Eh. Ah. We tried our best. Haha. She knows you know. She wasn’t happy but she gets it.”
- You said you got married on the 1st of February. Does that mean you’re postponing the honeymoon until after this fight?
- Where are you heading?
“Ummm, you know.... haha. Ah man, my poor wife. I told her Marvin [Vettori] is fighting, so we’ll probably go to London, and then we’ll figure it out from there. So it’s technically a honeymoon, but it’s not. We’re going to see London; we’re going to take care of Marvin as well. She has some experience cornering fighters. It’s hard when you corner, even when I corner other fighters because it’s demanding. So, we’ll start with London, but I have a feeling I’m going to have to do another one at the end of the year or something. Maybe take her somewhere in Asia.”
- You’re on a three-fight winning streak, with two of those coming by submission. You sub’d Drew Dober with an armbar from the triangle, and then caught Frank Camacho in an RNC. Both outing earned you a performance bonus. That’s an extra $100k. How much of that do you reinvest into your training?
“For me, everything is close to me. My teammates are close by. So, most of that money actually went towards the wedding. The wedding was real big. As far as my training goes, I reinvest as far as I wrestle three or four times a week. I have two of those are one on ones. I have striking where I do one on ones. All my coaches have to be paid, you know? That’s where some of the money goes, but this time a lot of it went to the wedding.”
- Do you have any advice for up and coming fighters who might earn a performance bonus and ways to manage that kind of money?
“Save your money. We don’t fight as much as we like. We think we’re going to fight so many times, and end up fighting less. Generally speaking, ,out of the time we fight less than we expect. On very few occasions we fight more.”
- Yeah, your boy Giga Chikadze was supposed to fight at UFC Norfolk, but his opponent Mike Davis pulled out.
“Very hard for him.”
- So a lot of guys are really having trouble with your grappling. You’ve really been owning it when the fight hits the floor. How do you feel like your grappling stacks up against the rest of the division?
“I feel like I have an advantage in grappling with just about anybody I fight. I haven’t really felt like I fought anyone who had an advantage over me in grappling. So I feel good when the fight goes to the ground. I try to be a mixed martial artist, where I’m capable of doing whatever necessary. With Frank, I had some success standing as well before the fight went to the ground. With Dober, it was actually the opposite. I didn’t have a lot of success standing, but thankfully, I had just enough defense when I was in trouble I was able to survive and then get the fight to the ground. Even if it is just defense, not offense, it makes a difference. So, standing is very important to me.”
- Now you’re fighting Drakkar Klose at UFC 248. He’s 11-1 and on a three-fight winning streak himself. He was a collegiate wrestler, he’s pretty good in the clinch, and he mixes things up pretty well. Do you think he’ll close the distance for you, or do you think he will want to keep it standing.
“Not really sure. I’m not really thinking about what he wants to do. I’m more focused on what I’m going to do. I don’t know. I don’t really give too much thought about his game and his style and what he wants to do.”
- Do you study any tape on your opponents or is that something you would rather stay away from?
“I’ll watch tape on my opponents. I’ll watch a little bit of tape. I don’t like to invest too much time on tape. Sometimes you get too focused on your opponent instead of yourself. I’d rather watch my own training and my own sparring sessions and develop from there.”
- From the tape you have watched, what would you say is his biggest asset?
“I think he’s an intelligent fighter. I think we don’t recognize that because everybody thinks he’s aggressive. People think his best attribute is being aggressive. You have to notice that he goes to a lot of decision wins. To be able to win decisions, you have to be intelligent. You have to know when to push, when to back up, when you’re behind, when you’re ahead, and how to control the tempo of the fight. So, I will say that. He is an intelligent fighter to be able to win five or six fights in the UFC, and all by decision.”
- Like you said, Klose has been to a decision in each of his six UFC outings. Will this one reach the scorecards?
“Not if I can help it. That’s not how I want to win the fight. My goal is to win. If it’s a decision fine, but I think I can finish him whether it be standing or on the ground. I think I have more tools to finish the fight.”
- This is your first fight of the year. What are your goals for 2020? Is there a certain amount of fight you want to get, or certain matchups you’re after?
“If I can do three fights this year, that would be wonderful. If not, I’d like to do this fight and get a top-10, top-5 opponent next. I’ve had plenty of fights. I’ve fought lots of guys, so it’d be nice to fight someone up there. But if not, whatever, I just want to continue fighting these guys I’m fighting. I’m fighting some of the best guys. I enjoy competition, so that’s all it is.”
- We’ve spoke in the past and you talked about how your family wanted you to go in a different direction, and not into the combat sports realm. Now seeing all the success you’ve had, have they come around to you being a prize fighter?
“Definitely. They’ve definitely come around. I don’t present myself as a prize fighter. I know there’s that one day, or two or three times a year that I fight, but they know who I am. They know I’m a martial artist. They know I wake up in the morning. I’m disciplined. I do my job. They know I’m consistent with everything I do, and they understand and respect that. I think that’s been the biggest difference.