Beneil Dariush is currently recovering from an injured leg but hopes to return to the Octagon by the end of summer.
Dariush was forced to withdraw from a fight against Islam Makhachev at UFC Vegas 49 after breaking his fibula and injuring his ankle during a training session earlier this year. When provided with options to address the injury, the 33-year-old opted to forgo surgery and use physical therapy to help with his recovery. The process has gone well so far, but it is far from being done, as Dariush told Brett Okamoto of ESPN recently.
The Kings MMA product revealed he was still dealing with issues to his ankle and Achillies, which led to him turning down an offered fight at the upcoming UFC London 2 Fight Night event.
“The fibula is actually really good,” said Dariush. “The leg is healed, the bone is fine. The issue I had — I have a little bit of now still — is a weakness in my ankle and then also in my Achilles. That was something I was not expecting just because I jumped into PT right off the bat. So I didn’t think that was going to be an issue. For example, right now if I do five rounds — whatever kind of training whether it’s grappling or striking — somewhere around the third round it starts to get weak and chances of me rolling my ankle or something stupid like that happening increases by a lot. It almost happened on Tuesday. So that’s one of the reasons why I said no to July. Just because, man, I don’t want to go through a whole camp and be constantly stressed about my ankle.
“Is it going to make it through this camp? Is it going to be strong enough? So we’re just spending all our time right now still focusing on strengthening moving forward and making sure we’re good to go,” continued Dariush. “And I think in a couple of weeks, if I just keep focusing on it, it’ll be fine.”
Dariush wanted to return by July but has since delayed it until August, when he should be 100 percent again. The only thing left to determine is who Dariush would fight, and that question has become a bit more difficult to answer in light of recent events.
UFC president Dana White previously said he was open to rescheduling Dariush vs. Makhachev after the latter declined a short-notice fight against Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 272 this past March. However, Makhachev has become a frontrunner for a No. 1 contender against Charles Oliveira, the former lightweight champion who was stripped after missing weight for his defense against Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 two weeks ago. With some encouragement from Joe Rogan and Khabib Nurmagomedov, White hinted at changing his mind and booking Oliveira vs. Makhachev instead, leaving Dariush without the opponent he thought he had.
Should he miss out on the fight with Makhachev, Dariush does not want to wait and prefers if the UFC gives him anyone else for now. Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler are without opponents, and the No. 6 lightweight contender would welcome a fight against any one of them.
“I don’t want to wait,” said Dariush. “I want to fight. If Islam gets this fight, cool. If I get the fight, cool. I get it. You could make a case for both of us. Like you said, Islam is on a 10-fight win streak, I have a win in the top 10 and in the top five. When I beat Diego Ferreira, he was top 10. When I beat Tony, he was top five, so whatever.
“You can make a case for both of us,” continued Dariush. “Honestly, I don’t care. Let me know who’s next. Am I fighting [Michael] Chandler? Am I fighting Dustin Poirier? Am I fighting Islam? I want to know if I’m fighting Islam and by a miracle am I fighting Charles. If that fight actually happens. I just want to know what’s going on next and that’s really where I’m at.”
Dariush has not fought since his unanimous decision win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 262 over a year ago. He extended his win streak to seven, one of the longest in the lightweight division.