Iranian lightweight contender Beneil Dariush has always been a very talented fighter with a lot of potential, but it looked for a while there like his best days might be behind him, even before turning 30-years-old. He just made it into the top fifteen lightweight rankings again with his win over Scott Holtzman last weekend at UFC Fight Night 174.
Dariush came to the UFC back in early 2014 with a 6-0 record, and quickly dispatched of the 19-5 CFFC Lightweight Champion Charlie Brenneman via submission (rear naked choke) at 1:45 of round one.
He then lost his next fight to The Ultimate Fighter 13 finalist Ramsey Nijem via TKO in round one, before winning his next five straight over Anthony Rocco Martin (arm-triangle choke), Carlos Diego Ferreira (unanimous decision), Daron Cruickshank (rear naked choke), Jim Miller (unanimous decision), and Michael Johnson (split decision).
His win over Johnson was quite controversial, but who hasn’t had a controversial decision in their career with the way judges are? He was then submitted (rear naked choke) by Michael Chiesa in round two, before knocking out the surging James Vick in round one and picking up a unanimous decision over Rashid Magomedov.
Next is where he ran into some issues, as he went 0-2-1 in his next three, being KO’d by both Edson Barboza and Alexander Hernandez, and having a draw with Evan Dunham in between those two. The once extremely talented contender suddenly turned into a prospect coming off some brutal defeats, but it’s only made him better.
Being KO’d in two of your last three fights when you’re 27 and 28-years-old isn’t a good thing by any stretch, it could ruin the fighters chin forever, but he took half a year off after each knockout defeat, which certainly helped him recover.
Since then, he’s on a five-fight win streak with four finishes. He defeated Thiago Moises via unanimous decision, he submitted Drew Dober with a triangle armbar toward the end of round two, he submitted Frank Camacho with a rear naked choke in round one, he KO’d Drakkar Klose in round two with a beautiful overhand left, the same punch he finished James Vick with, and now he’s coming off a first round KO win over Scott Holtzman.
He hurt Holtzman badly in round one with a knee, followed up by a barrage of strikes, before landing a spinning back fist to get the KO finish. He did miss weight for this fight by two pounds, which he chalked up to bad planning and the Covid-19 precautions. Dariush improved his record to 19-4-1 with his recent victory.
Beneil Dariush started wrestling during his senior year of high school, and turned to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu afterward, earning his black belt in just five years. That’s quite a feat, considering it takes the average student ten years of actively training to obtain a black belt.
He’s also a multiple-time world champion in the art at the blue, purple, and brown belt level. He started his MMA career around the same time as his BJJ career, and he’s also since been awarded a black belt in Muay Thai.
Dariush an incredibly well rounded fighter, as he’s always shown, it’s great to see him really come into his own. It’s not at all easy winning five straight fights in the UFC, let alone at lightweight, and let alone four of those being finishes.
What’s next for Beneil Dariush?
I became a fan of combat sports when I was 12 years old. I was scrolling through the channels and landed upon Versus, where WEC was televised. Urijah Faber fought Jens Pulver for the second time that night. That’s the first fight I ever saw, and I was immediately hooked. So eventually, I began covering the sport in the fourth quarter of 2018, and have since started writing about animals as well. If you’d like to see those pieces, be sure to check out learnaboutnature.com!