A lightweight title-eliminator between streaking top-5 challenger, Beneil Dariush, and the surging, Islam Makhachev is set to take main event status at a UFC Fight Night event on February 26. At the time of publication, a venue or location for the promotion’s showcase has yet to be confirmed.
Unbeaten in his last seven straight, grappling ace, Dariush utilized his grappling and wrestling base in May to lodge the most high-profile victory of his professional career to date — handing former interim gold holder, Tony Ferguson a one-sided unanimous decision loss at UFC 262.
For Makhachev, the Russian standout scored his staggering ninth straight Octagon victory back in October — stopping short-notice replacement, Dan Hooker with a one-sided opening round kimura stoppage in Abu Dhabi at UFC 267. Brett Okamoto of ESPN MMA was first to report the potential lightweight title-eliminator.
Kings MMA staple and Rafael Cordeiro student, Dariush enjoyed a hugely successful 2021 year inside the Octagon — scoring the #3 rank with his unanimous judging win over the faltering Ferguson in May.
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The 32-year-old Iran-born submission ace picked up a second career win over Diego Ferreira this year, adding the Brazilian grappler to prior eye-catching victories against the likes of Scott Holtzman and Drakkar Klose as part of his eye-catching division run. Akin to Makhachev, Dariush holds a pair of wins against both Drew Dober and Thiago Moises.
For Makhachev, the Makhachkala native is in the midst of an incredible run of nine straight victories, also submitting Moises and Dober with a rear-naked choke and arm-triangle this year, respectively.
The 30-year-old has been widely touted to follow in the footsteps of his American Kickboxing Academy teammate, the now-retired, Khabib Nurmagomedov and mint himself as the undisputed lightweight champion. And against Dariush in February, the victor will likely emerge as the next lightweight title challenger following former interim gold holder, Justin Gaethje.
Senior writer for FightBook MMA. An aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Producer of news articles, interviews, opinion features, and exclusive features such as, ‘The Fallout’, ‘The Breakdown, and, ‘This Week In MMA’.
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