In his perfect world, Beneil Dariush would compete for the lightweight title at UFC 280. But he’ll still make weight at 155 pounds as the backup to the main event between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev.
As he prepares for his own fight against Mateusz Gamrot on the same card on Oct. 22, Dariush said he’s been told to stay ready in case something happens to either one of the main event fighters.
“That’s what [my manager] Ali [Abdelaziz] told me, I was the backup for this,” Dariush revealed in an interview with MMA Fighting. “If something goes wrong, they would put me in.”
In recent years, the UFC has either booked a matchup in the same weight class or contracted a fighter to serve as a backup to protect high-profile main events from falling apart in the days leading up to the show.
The practice was prominent during the pandemic when athletes, coaches or teammates tested positive for COVID-19, forcing numerous last-minute changes to events. Now, the UFC employs a just-in-case-of-emergency strategy as a safety valve to prevent the loss of a marquee main event.
While he’s getting ready for Gamrot as part of the undercard, Dariush will have no problem cutting the extra pound required for a title fight; he faced a similar situation when he competed on the same card as Oliveira, who at UFC 262 faced Michael Chandler for the vacant lightweight title.
“Yeah, of course [I’ll make 155 pounds],” Dariush said. “It’s not that hard. I make 156. Last time in Texas [at UFC 262], I was pretty much 155 when I fought.
“What happened was, I got on the scale with the UFC scale, it’s a digital scale, it said 155.2 and I was like OK, and I had underwear on. I got on the one from the athletic commission, they use the weights on the scale, and I got on that one and he was like 156.2. I was like what? So I had to go back and cut a little bit more weight. The whole thing was stupid. So I’m planning on making 155 just like last time.”
Prior to an ankle injury that forced him out of action, Dariush was scheduled to face Makhachev in a February title eliminator. He’s also been previously booked to face Oliveira, and that only bolsters his confidence if he does get the call to compete in the main event at the last second.
“I just prepare,” Dariush said. “I prepare for a guy like Mateusz Gamrot and three rounds, five rounds, it’s really just pacing yourself. For three rounds, I just get to go nuts for three rounds. I can go as hard as I want. For five rounds, I’ll pace a little bit more. You get to enjoy your time in there if you really want to fight five rounds.
“As far as preparing for Islam or Charles, really the way you do that, you be as well-rounded as you can possibly be, in terms of striking, in terms of timing, wrestling, all that stuff, be the best that you can be and then don’t worry about the rest. It’s all going to take care of itself.”