Beneil Dariush thought he was the backup fighter for Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev at UFC 280, but it appears as though someone else got the role.
UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski revealed Monday he received clearance to return to competition and was ‘locked in’ as the backup should anything happen to Oliveira or Makhachev. The ‘Great’ has campaigned for the opportunity to become a two-division champion, so the revelation was unsurprising. However, it was surprising to Dariush, who was supposed to fill in, especially since he fights Mateusz Gamrot in a potential No. 1 contender on the very same pay-per-view event.
Dariush told Damon Martin of MMA Fighting this past September that his manager Ali Abdelaziz let him know if something went wrong, ‘they would put me in’ to compete for the vacant UFC lightweight championship. So when he heard the claim by Volkanovski, the No. 6 lightweight was perplexed.
“Honestly, I’m confused,” said Dariush on Sirius XM. “I’m not sure if he’s playing games or the UFC is playing games, because I was told I’m the fill-in.
“That’s the whole point of having another lightweight fight on that card, just in case something goes wrong,” continued Dariush. “I don’t understand what’s going on here. I’m trying to get to the bottom of it, but ultimately I have one goal and that’s Gamrot. I really thought I was the fill in. That’s what I was told.”
Though not included in his contract, Dariush believed his role as backup was all but confirmed considering the inclusion of his fight against Gamrot on the line-up.
“My manager said they were putting me on the card [on the] same day because if not, why come all the way to Abu Dhabi, you know? Him and I could headline a card and then we can fight somewhere else. But the reason why they brought us here [is] just in case something goes wrong, I would jump in and fill in for the main event.”
A win over Gamrot would not only see Dariush extend his win streak to eight, but it could also secure a title shot against the winner of Oliveira vs. Makhachev in the near future.
UFC 280 is set for Sat., Oct. 22, at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.