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Neiman Gracie: Charles Oliveira’s best weapon also his ‘biggest weakness’ against teammate Beneil Dariush

Neiman Gracie and Beneil Dariush (center) train together at Kings MMA
Photo via Rafael Cordeiro’s Instagram

The UFC is discussing a potential clash between Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush for later this year, and “Benny’s” teammate Neiman Gracie likes Dariush’s chances against the jiu-jitsu ace.

A member of the family that has founded Brazilian jiu-jitsu and created the UFC three decades ago, Neiman trains alongside Dariush at Kings MMA in California and works with head coach Rafael Cordeiro, who was one of the pillars of the legendary Chute Boxe team in Brazil, now home of Oliveira.

Dariush and “do Bronx” were paired to meet once in the past, but the Brazilian withdrew from the Oct. 2020 bout due to undisclosed reasons and only returned two months later to dominate Tony Ferguson and earn a shot at the belt. Meanwhile, Dariush patiently awaits his turn after collecting eight straight victories inside the octagon.

“Watching Charles fight is so fun because you’re always wondering what will happen,” Gracie said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca. “He gets knocked down, he scores a knockdown. He’s always so fun to watch. This is going to be a great fight, maybe the fight of the year.”

Oliveira still holds the record for most submission wins in UFC history but is far from being un-submittable, suffering four of his nine MMA defeats via tap out. Dariush was choked once in his career, losing to Michael Chiesa in 2016, but has shown grappling skills in UFC wins over Frank Camacho, Drew Dober, Daron Cruickshank, Anthony Rocco Martin and Charlie Brenneman.

“Their jiu-jitsu are different from one another,” Gracie said. “Charles’ jiu-jitsu is more of attacks from any position. He has many submissions up his sleeve, guillotines, triangles, millions of things. ‘Benny’s’ [jiu-jitsu] is different, he progresses more, wants to pass your guard, mount and try to submit you. Charles tries to submit you from any position, and that ends up putting Charles in a bit of danger sometimes because of how much he exposes himself. I think that’s one situation ‘Benny’ can take advantage of in the fight, Charles exposing himself, to try to progress and maybe even submit him.”

“I would say Charles’ best weapon, his biggest strength, is also his biggest weakness too, that style of going forward and giving his all in the fight,” he continued. “He goes out there walking forward to see what happens. Like I said, ‘Benny’ has jiu-jitsu and striking, and wrestling to neutralize his attacks. If ‘Benny’ fights smart like he’s been fighting his past [eight] fights with no losses, I believe he wins. But always be careful because Charles is super dangerous and can also submit you or knock you out at any moment.”

Gracie, who returns to the Bellator cage Saturday to face Dante Schiro in Inglewood, Calif., is confident that Dariush “has power in his hands to end this fight on the feet” as well, making a statement that would finally move him over the hump in the lightweight title run.

“Winning this, ‘Benny’ will fight for the title next,” Gracie said. “We believe so, but we can’t predict the future, especially when we’re talking about the UFC and Dana White, a man thinks one thing today but changes his mind on the next day. We do believe that [Dariush] will be fighting the winner of Islam Makhachev and [Alexander Volkanovski] at the end of the year.

“We’re waiting for the belt for a long, long time, but we know millions of things can happen. [Conor] McGregor might come back, you never know. Look at what Dana did with the Glover [Teixeira] fight. Two guys fought for the belt and he didn’t like what happened, so he put Glover and another guy [at UFC 283]. MMA still has a lot to change as a sport, it’s still too much of a show. And when it’s a show, we don’t know what the future holds.”

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