Monday, May 16, 2022

Dana White On Makhachev’s Claim To Title Shot: Let’s Not Forget Dariush

While Islam Makhachev is expecting to fight for gold when he next enters the Octagon, UFC President Dana White has reminded the Dagestani that he’s not without competition.

Since the retirement of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev has quickly risen to fill the Russian void left at the top of the division. With dominant victories over Drew Dober, Thiago Moisés, and Dan Hooker in 2021, the 30-year-old extended his win streak to nine and entered 2022 inside the top five.

In his first appearance of this year, a main event triumph over Bobby Green last weekend, Makhachev made it 10 straight wins and rose to #3 at 155 pounds.

Makhachev’s first-round victory at UFC Vegas 49 saw him rise above Beneil Dariush on the lightweight ladder. The AKA product was initially scheduled to face the Iranian-American in the February 26 headliner, but a broken fibula forced the 32-year-old to withdraw.

While Makhachev has added another name to his record’s win column and now has his sights set on the belt, the UFC president doesn’t believe the title picture is as clear-cut as the Dagestani and his camp believe.

Following Makhachev’s victory, his compatriot and mentor Khabib gave some insight into the UFC’s future plans. According to “The Eagle,” White revealed the promotion is targeting a Makhachev title shot in Abu Dhabi later this year.

Now, in an interview with TMZ Sports, White has suggested nothing is set in stone and reminded Makhachev of the presence of Dariush, who is on an impressive win streak of his own.

“He’s (Makhachev) obviously in the discussion but let’s not forget Beneil,” reminded White. “Beneil is still around too, you know. He’s ranked number three [now four] in the world right now, so we’ll see what happens.” (h/t Sportskeeda)

White Still Wants To See Makhachev vs. Dariush

While there’s no timeframe known for Dariush’s injury, it was recently revealed that the #4-ranked contender will likely be able to avoid surgery on his damaged leg.

With a fight between Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje set to represent the next championship fight in the division at UFC 274 in May, it appears there’s plenty of time for the 32-year-old to recover before the titleholder would be ready to defend his belt later in the year. That’s led many to suggest Dariush and Makhachev could have their title eliminator re-arranged.

During an interview with Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole, White admitted he still wants to see the pair of elite 155lbers share the Octagon. If that doesn’t come to fruition and Makhachev does get the next shot, he expects Dariush to be close behind in the queue.

“I would still like to see Islam vs. Beneil. I’d still like to see that fight. Or, he fights the winner of Justin (Gaethje) and Charles (Oliveira), and Beneil is the first challenger to the title (after),” suggested White.

How do you think the lightweight title picture should play out for the rest of 2022?

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