UFC lightweight Beneil Dariush has provided an update on his injury and given a potential timeline for his return to the Octagon.
Dariush, a mainstay on MMA’s biggest stage since 2014, was finally set for his first chance to secure a title shot in the UFC last month. Having amassed a seven-fight win streak that includes victories over Diego Ferreira and Tony Ferguson, the Iranian-born American secured his place in a likely title eliminator opposite fellow top-five contender Islam Makhachev.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck 11 days before the February 26 card. While grappling in training, Dariush suffered a broken fibula after getting his toe caught in the mat during a takedown.
Soon after, the serious nature of the injury came out, and Dariush appeared to be facing the possibility of surgery. However, the #4-ranked lightweight has now provided a positive update on his condition.
During a recent interview with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, the 32-year-old confirmed the injury is not as bad as initially feared, and will not require an operation. With that in mind, a feared four-month layoff from training has been reduced to just six to eight weeks.
“At first, they were talking four months just to start training again,” Dariush said. “So, when I heard six to eight weeks, I almost started crying.”
Now that a timeframe for his return to the gym is in place, Dariush is well-placed to provide an early guess on when fans will be able to see him enter the Octagon again. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt further told Okamoto that he’s targeting a return to action in the summer.
And after a recent revelation from UFC President Dana White, it appears Dariush’s next camp will see him preparing for a re-arranged clash with the #3-ranked Makhachev.
“Thank God, we’re going to reschedule. I feel bad for Islam. I’m sure he’s not happy about the situation, but it’s the ideal situation for me to get this fight rebooked. I’d like to have another 10 weeks for this camp, but if it’s shorter, it’s shorter. June, July, those are dates.” (h/t ESPN)
Dariush Was Looking At Gillespie/Tsarukyan Before Makhachev Revelation
Immediately after Makhachev’s comfortable triumph at UFC Vegas 49, which came against short-notice opponent Bobby Green, it appeared the Dagestani was in line for a title shot, a sentiment Khabib Nurmagomedov suggested White had shared to him.
But after the 30-year-old turned down a short-notice bout with Rafael dos Anjos for this weekend’s UFC 272 pay-per-view, the UFC President revealed the promotion would be looking to re-book Makhachev vs. Dariush later in the year, rather than grant the AKA product the next championship opportunity.
That certainly came as a surprise to Dariush, who told ESPN he was already scanning the lower-ranked names for a potential next foe.
“I was so bummed. At first, I thought it was gonna be, he’s gonna get the title shot,'” said Dariush. “I heard them saying, ‘Oh, Dana said he’s got the title shot,’ and things like that. Again, I went crashing into sadness, or whatever you want to call it. I was like, ‘Okay, I guess this isn’t in.’ And then I started looking at the top 10, I’m like, ‘Who am I gonna fight next? Who’s gonna be my next matchup?’
“I was looking at (Gregor) Gillespie, that was somebody I was looking at,” continued Dariush. “Who else was there… [Rafael Fiziev or Arman Tsarukyan?] I mean, Fiziev was supposed to fight Raf (dos Anjos) at the time. But yeah, Fiziev would’ve been another one. And then, man, Arman looked awesome (at UFC Vegas 49). I was really impressed with him. So, yeah, that would be another guy.”
Dariush’s recovery timeline has certainly made White’s plans more feasible. While you’d expect that to be a disappointment for Makhachev, who seemingly expected to be fighting next with gold on the line, the Dagestani responded by promising to “smash” the entire division if that’s what it takes.
If this fight does get re-arranged, who do you think will have their hand raised, Beneil Dariush or Islam Makhachev?