Beneil Dariush picked Justin Gaethje to beat Charles Oliveira at UFC 274 and, with a few adjustments, the No. 6-ranked lightweight believes “The Highlight” could have won the fight.
Dariush believes Gaethje made a mistake in not following Oliveira to the ground and allowing the Brazilian to recover after he had “Do Bronx” hurt on at least two occasions.
Had Gaethje trusted his instincts and gone for the finish, Dariush believes we would have a new UFC lightweight champion. Instead, ‘Do Bronx’ came from behind to submit Gaethje with a rear-naked choke at 3:22 of the first round. He was stripped of the lightweight title for missing weight and is expected to fight for the vacant lightweight championship in his next fight.
“I picked Gaethje to win, but I said if Gaethje’s smart. I said, ‘If Gaethje hits him and then moves, he’ll be fine.’ And he did that a little bit, and he got two knockdowns. But he got overzealous,” Dariush told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto (h/t MMA News).
“And man, you gotta understand, Justin really is a dog. When he sees blood, he sees blood. But the thing with Charles is, he’ll go to his back, not because he’s super hurt, but it’s a comfort zone for him,” added Dariush. “Justin couldn’t differentiate between Charles being hurt and Charles just being cautious.”
“I think it’s a mistake. I mean, if you’re an MMA fighter and you just knock somebody down, go! I remember rewatching my fight with Diego Ferreira, and I remember Daniel Cormier saying it was a mistake for me to chase him down because he was able to recover after I dropped him… Bro, this is MMA? I’m not trying to tell you I’m the best at striking, I’m trying to let you know that I’m the best at hurting you. That’s my job, on the ground or standing.”
Dariush hopes to return to the Octagon by August after breaking his fibula and injuring his ankle earlier this year. The Iranian-born fighter is now almost fully recovered and looks forward to his next opponent, whomever that may be.