Beneil Dariush believes Khabib Nurmagomedov is trying to create a little drama between him and Islam Makhachev ahead of their highly anticipated lightweight bout at UFC Fight Night 203.
Khabib claims Makhachev will receive a ‘double bonus’ if he is able to finish Dariush but, according to Dariush, he, too, will receive the exact same bonus if he gets the stoppage on Feb. 26.
“I don’t know if I feel like I’m in competition with him (Khabib), but I feel like, maybe, he’s trying to do a little bit of a drama show,” Dariush told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto during a recent interview (h/t Harvey Leonard of MMA News). 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… I was gonna joke, I was like, ‘Man, I’m gonna call Ali (Abdelaziz) and tell him, listen Ali, give me Khabib’s number, I wanna make this guy my manager because I don’t understand why he’s getting bonuses.’”
“But I’m just kidding. In reality, I get the same thing. 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.”
While many feel Dariush vs. Makhachev will determine the next No. 1 contender at 155-pounds, No. 3-ranked Dariush isn’t so sure.
A win over Makhachev should, in theory, propel Dariush into title contention but the latter is also keenly aware that the UFC has a business to run.
“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 (White) or Sean (Shelby) 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.”
UFC Fight Night: Dariush vs. Makhachev is scheduled to take place on Feb. 26, 2022, at a TBA location.