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Beneil Dariush not waiting for potential title shot, aiming for Poirier or Oliveira next

The lightweight contender thought he had a championship opportunity secured before the UFC went in a different direction. 

Beneil Dariush punches Mateusz Gamrot at UFC 280.
Beneil Dariush punches Mateusz Gamrot at UFC 280.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Beneil Dariush is on the verge of his first UFC championship opportunity, but it sounds like waiting for it is not an option.

Having earned a unanimous decision over Mateusz Gamrot at UFC 280 this past October, Dariush thought his next fight should be for the the lightweight belt. After all, he was supposedly tapped to serve as the backup for Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira, which could have secured him a fight with the winner.

However, once Makhachev defeated Oliveira, his next opponent was revealed—and it was not the longtime Kings MMA talent. Entering the Octagon to have a face-off with the newly crowned champion instead is Alexander Volkanovski, who the UFC gave the go-ahead to pursue his second concurrent title. Once Makhachev vs. Volkanovski was scheduled, Dariush found himself on the outside of the title picture.

“In the moment, I felt like it was definitely weird, and I was frustrated, I’ll be honest with you,” said Dariush in an interview with UFC.com. “I get why they did it. Volkanovski is the pound-for-pound king, but the timing was terrible for me. I seem very cool-headed, but if you push the right buttons or say the right things, I’ll probably try to take your head off right there. So, after I found out the news and I cooled off, I said to myself, ‘What difference does it make? I just have to win my fights.’ It was all good and look how well it turned out.”

For his next fight, there are a few options for Dariush to consider. He could either wait for the winner of Makhachev vs. Volkanovski or get paired against a fellow top-five contender.

Of the two options, Dariush would prefer the latter.

“I don’t know what UFC’s gameplan is for me,” said Dariush. “I don’t know if I’m ever going to fight for that belt. I have the option of waiting and fighting the winner, but if Volkanovski wins and decides to defend his featherweight belt, I might end up waiting a whole year and maybe I end up fighting in 2024. I don’t think there is anybody who can jump in front of me right now, but my job is winning fights, so let’s fight Dustin Poirier or Charles Oliveira. March is a good timetable for me.

“I like fighting,” continued Dariush. “I get bored not fighting. I get bored not preparing for an opponent. This is my job and I want to do it. That’s it. It’s not about money or guaranteeing the title shot, it’s that I want to fight the best guys in the world. I think Dustin Poirier or Charles Oliveira are those guys.”

Poirier and Oliveira are above Dariush in the official rankings.