Beneil Dariush confident grappling with Islam Makhachev: ‘I can do whatever I want’

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Beneil Dariush is feeling good ahead of his next test.

The UFC lightweight contender takes on Khabib Nurmagomedov protege Islam Makhachev on Feb. 26 in the main event of UFC Fight Night 202. It’s a big lightweight matchup since it pits two of the most impressive current winning streaks at 155 pounds.

Makhachev has made a name for himself due to his dominant grappling and submission ability. But Dariush (21-4-1 MMA, 15-4-1 UFC), who’s also a respected grappler, is unfazed by Makhachev’s grappling ahead of their bout.

“I don’t care where the fight goes,” Dariush told reporters at UFC 270. “I can do whatever I want.”

The 32-year-old is on a seven-fight winning streak entering UFC Fight Night 202. Dariush most recently fought at UFC 262 in May 2021 and dominated former interim champion Tony Ferguson.

Dariush thinks Makhachev is a solid fighter, but doesn’t think he’s faced anyone of his caliber.

“I haven’t seen anyone really pressure him, and it could be because they couldn’t – they weren’t well-rounded enough,” Dariush said. “If you try pressuring him standing, he takes you down. If you try to apply some jiu-jitsu, his wrestling is so good he doesn’t allow you. From what I’ve seen, they haven’t been able to put pressure on him because they don’t have enough skills, the well-roundedness required to do that. And I think I”m the guy to do that.”

But despite being confident, Dariush is a betting underdog for the matchup against Makhachev. Dariush can’t help but laugh at the odds.

“I didn’t know the odds, but I think those are silly odds. That’s what I think.”