Newly crowned UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev may look untouchable after defeating former champion Charles Oliveira (who had to relinquish his title after failing to make weight ahead of his title defense against Justin Gaethje at UFC 274) in emphatic fashion with a second round finish via arm-triangle choke at UFC 280, but there is one particular fighter with the skillset and approach who can take down the 31-year-old protege of Khabib Nurmagomedov, according to former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson.
“The only one would be Dariush — that’s it,” Thomson said on his Weighing In podcast.
“He’s the only one that I think has the style to beat (Makhachev). He’s so unorthodox. He doesn’t fight like a normal fighter. You want to stand and trade with Islam? ‘I’ll take you down.’ You want to wrestle with me? ‘I’ll stuff your takedowns and force you to stand.’ Dariush doesn’t give a f*ck where you take the fight.
“He does it in a very wild, crazy way. You’re not expecting someone to go Granby roll right out of something into a leg lock into a sit-up and sweep. … He’s not trying to allow you to lock your hands around his body and get you taken down. If you do take him down, he’s going to Granby roll, and if he Granby rolls, he’s going to start fighting the hands. He’s going to give up position and he’s going to fight at a pace that Islam – I know he’s always in phenomenal shape, but he likes to slow it down.”
Thomson formerly trained with Makhachev at the American Kickboxing Academy, which lends some more credence to his notion that Dariush, who sports a 22-4-1 overall MMA record and a 16-4-1 UFC might pose a threat to Makhachev (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC).
It’s still uncertain who Dariush will face in the octagon next, and while it won’t be Makhachev for the title, according to Darish, there is a possibility for a match against one specific, high-ranking opponent.
“So, I met with Dana. Dana’s cool. It was my first meeting with him, an actual one-on-one sit-down, in the nine years that I’ve been in the UFC. Dana’s cool, easy guy to talk to,” Dariush said in a sit-down with Submission Radio. “We went over stuff and it seemed like they wanted me to fight Charles Oliveira. I was like, ‘Great, let’s do it. That sounds good.’”
While Dariush seems set to go for a match against the former champion, it’s still one that’s not set in stone.
“The timetable I gave them was February, March is ideal for me…. But to be honest with you, I haven’t heard anything back since. So, I’m assuming maybe the other party hasn’t really stepped up. I’m not sure,” Dariush added. “Kind of stuck in limbo right now, as usual… Sounded great to me at the time, but still haven’t heard anything. I’ve heard he wants to take some time off, is what he wrote.”
Meanwhile, Islam Makhachev’s first title defense is set for UFC 284, where he takes on UFC Featherweight Champion and #1 pound-for-pound ranked fighter Alexander Volkanovski.
Do you think Beneil Dariush is the only one who can beat Islam Makhachev? Is there some other fighter in the Lightweight Rankings who has a better chance to dethrone Makhachev? Sound off in the comments.