One month out from the biggest fight of his career, Beneil Dariush is looking to continue surging in the lightweight rankings. He will take on Edson Barboza March 11th in UFC Fortaleza in the co-main event of the evening.
The 9th ranked Dariush will look to enter lightweight elite when he faces his toughest challenge yet. The 5th ranked Barboza is coming off big wins over former champion Anthony Pettis and former title challenger Gilbert Melendez. For Dariush, drawing an opponent like Edson validates his worth in the talent stacked lightweight division.
“When they give me higher level opponents, that’s when I feel the most respected. For me it’s a good thing, it’s a great thing. I’m looking forward to it. I like that Edson Barboza is a really tough guy and I get to fight another tough guy. That’s pretty awesome.”
He will be fighting in hostile territory, something he’s done multiple times before when he took out Jim Miller in New Jersey and Carlos Diego Ferreira in Brazil. Although the crowd will be on Barboza’s side, Dariush has been one of the more active fighters on the roster making this an experience he’s more than capable of handling.
“This will be my third trip to Brazil and I guess I’m getting so much experience it’s becoming more normal,” Dariush explained. “I remember when I got the call to fight Jim Miller I was so nervous and excited but the more fights I have, the more normal it’s becoming. I’m just excited to go out there and do my job.”
Barboza, most notoriously known for his wheel kick knockout of Terry Etim, is one of the UFC’s most devastating strikers. Having shown much improved striking in his past few fights, Dariush feels comfortable to stand and trade with the Brazilian.
“He’s a dangerous striker with good kicks. I just have to fight the way I’ve been fighting. I’m going to look to go forward; I’m going to look to exchange with him. Takedowns obviously another thing, I think my ground game is much better than his so that would definitely be another option.”
Helping him prepare for his big fight is teammate Kelvin Gastelum who will headline UFC Fortaleza vs. Vitor Belfort. Training at Kings MMA, Dariush is not short of elite level training partners as he’s also enlisted the help of a few K1 guys.
“I have some good guys, K1 guys like Giga Chikadze who fights in Glory helping me prepare so everything is great,” Dariush said. “I’m sparring right now with Kelvin and he feels so sharp and he likes sparring with me because I’m southpaw like Vitor. I know I’m a little bit smaller but it’s all about timing so we’ve been training together a lot.”
Another training partner for Dariush was former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos who recently made the headlines for leaving Kings MMA. Dariush, who considers dos Anjos like a brother was upset to see him go but respects his decision.
“It sucks not to have him in the gym but at the same time I understand that he felt that it was time for him to move on,” Dariush explained. “I’m not going to be selfish and try to stop him so it’s tough to see him go but I understand and I wish him the best. Of course we’re still friends and brothers so everything’s good.”
“We train sometimes because we go to the same jiu-jitsu places so yeah we still get to train together. We go to this place in Northridge, Gracie Barra Northridge, that’s one of the places we train so I get to see him. It’s awesome to be in each other’s presence because it feels like fight mode because most of the time when we’re around each other we are fighting.”
Coming into this fight, Dariush has won 7 of his last 8 fights with the one slip up coming to Michael Chiesa. He was dominating the fight on the feet before a careless mistake that allowed Chiesa to climb on his back and get the rear naked choke. Distraught and disappointed, Dariush bounced back quickly, with a knockout over James Vick and a decision win over prospect Rashid Magomedov.
“It was a pretty tough loss,” Dariush said on the Chiesa loss. “If you look at me coming back, I fought 4 weeks after it because it was such a tough loss. It was frustrating and what I learnt from it was that you can’t lose focus in a fight. A lack of focus and a lack of intensity could lose you the fight. Chiesa did a great job so credit to him but if anything I take away, just be there for the fight a little bit more.”
Now his focus is shifted to Barboza, an opponent he definitely cannot afford to make any mistakes against. With the lightweight title situation a little unclear, Dariush could find himself a number one contender with a win in Fortaleza.
“I didn’t think really think about it too much,” Dariush said on fighting for the title. “I guess it could be but which title you know? (laughs). Is it the interim title? So I try not to over think these things. I’m really excited right now because I keep getting these tough fights. Rashid was awesome, James Vick was awesome and now I have Edson Barboza. I just want to continue to get these kinds of fights.”
“I don’t really want to think about the title too much. I don’t want to chase something that’s just a piece of metal and then miss all these good things in front of me. I just want to continue and focus on the good fights and continue what I’ve been doing.”
The Iranian born Assyrian Dariush has been asked multiple times about President Trump’s Muslim ban which includes Iran on the list. Although a US citizen, Dariush admits the ban concerns him quite a bit.
“I don’t really think so since I’m a US citizen but I can’t be sure until the future,” Dariush said on being personally affected. “I know right now the ban has been put on hold so it’s just a really strange situation. Does it worry me? Yeah it worries me but I don’t want to say something that in the end of the day won’t happen. I want to wait and see what happens with that. People were worried that I go to Brazil and won’t be able to come back but I told them that I’m a US citizen and it’s not an issue.”
With nothing to worry about momentarily, Dariush is focused on making a statement next month in Brazil. A win over the 5th ranked lightweight would place him in the top of the division and he is confident that he will put on another great performance.
“I think I’m going to get a finish. I’m going to pressure him and he’s going to give me something. Whether it be a submission or a knockout, that’s what I’m feeling this fight.”
Surveillance Video Shows Conor McGregor Smash Phone
In a new video released by TMZ Sports, UFC star is shown knocking a phone down and smashing it in front of the Fountainebleau hotel located in Miami, Florida.
In true McGregor fashion, he followed up the destruction of the phone by doing his famous “billionaire strut.”
McGregor got into an altercation with Ahmed Abdirzak who was following and filming McGregor with his cell phone while McGregor and his entourage were leaving the hotel.
McGregor reportedly extended his hand to offer a hand shake, only to pull it back and smack the phone out of Abdirzak’s hand and proceeding to stomp on it.
After a few stomps, McGregor picks up the phone and walks away. He was later arrested, that same day, and has been charged with felony robbery and misdemeanor criminal mischief, which could land him in prison for up to 6 years.
McGregor has pled not guilty on all charges and is scheduled for trial beginning in May.
Abdirzak filed a lawsuit against McGregor stemming from the incident, but dropped his suit after the two sides worked out a settlement.
Abdirzak was reportedly demanding north of $15,000.
INTERVIEW: John Kavanagh Talks Brave CF 13 in Belfast, Frans Mlambo’s Title Fight and SBG Ireland
Renowned head coach of SBG Ireland, John Kavanagh has helped put Irish MMA on the map. With his star student and multiple time UFC champion, Conor McGregor taking over the MMA world, the two have opened up unlimited doors for the rest of the team.
Today, Kavanagh is leading some of the younger generation to world title fights and global organisations. On June 9th, one of his promising young fighters, Frans Mlambo will get a shot at gold when he takes on Stephen Loman for the Brave Combat Federation bantamweight title.
The two met back in the promotion’s first ever show in Bahrain when Loman picked up a unanimous decision win over Mlambo. It was a learning experience for the young South African who has picked up 3 straight finishes since. Kavanagh is confident that the former IMMAF world champion, Mlambo has all the tools to become champion.
Also competing on the Brave CF 13 card from SBG Ireland, is Cian Cowley (0-1) who takes on Daniel Olejniczak (2-1-1) and Tommy Martin (6-4) who takes on Wales’ Aidan James (1-0).
I spoke to John Kavanagh on the upcoming Brave CF 13 show, Mlambo’s improvements and the team’s preparation for their upcoming bouts. Check out the interview below.
Farah Hannoun: Brave Combat Federation are making their first trip to Europe, you’ve witnessed the organization’s growth so how excited are you to see them go to Belfast?
John Kavanagh: Brave is fast becoming one of the world’s biggest MMA shows so it’s of course great to have them visit Ireland. However, I would have preferred Dublin because that’s my hometown.
Farah Hannoun: Frans Mlambo is headlining the event, with a record of 5-2, he’s practically grown up in the cage, how proud are to see him turn things around with 3 straight finishes since losing to Loman the first time?
John Kavanagh: He’s earned that title shot with exciting finishes both by submission and KO. He’s finding his way in the cage nicely now.
Farah Hannoun: What adjustments has Mlambo made since the first fight with Loman? What do you feel like went wrong the first-time round?
John Kavanagh: His grappling was too weak back then. He’s one of the best strikers I’ve ever seen and now his grappling is catching up. Frans is one of the top 135lb fighters in the world.
Farah Hannoun: Cian Cowley is set to make the walk for the second time in his pro career when he takes on Daniel Olejniczak, in light of the legal issues he’s had the misfortune of dealing with, how hard was it for him to put all that aside and focus on the fight?
John Kavanagh: Cian is very mature and focused. It’s not a problem for him to block out what’s going on outside.
Farah Hannoun: Also competing from SBG, is Tommy Martin who’s looking to bounce back when he takes on Aidan James, how’s he been looking at the gym and what can we expect from him?
John Kavanagh: Tommy is a technician. Clean striking, one of best doubles on my team and tidy on the ground. His opponent is similar, solid technician. This fight will be very interesting for those who like nice technique.
Farah Hannoun: You’ve played a massive role in the growth of Irish MMA, SBG and Conor McGregor. The impact that you and Conor have had has resulted in a lot of opportunities and a spotlight on the guys at the gym. Does the idea that people have the perception that the SBG guys get “special treatment” or extra opportunities bother you?
John Kavanagh: No, we’ve earned it 😉
Farah Hannoun: You must be really proud, bringing up a talent such as Frans from his IMMAF world champion days to now him getting a title shot at Brave CF, what are your thoughts on Frans as an individual and a fighter?
John Kavanagh: One of few 135lbs in the world with genuine 1 punch KO power. A very good singer and cook too!
Farah Hannoun: You wrote a mega successful book, Win or Learn, which is even a quote that people have been using a lot when competing in MMA. Your best-selling book was even translated to multiple languages and sold internationally which is incredible. Did you expect the book to be so successful when writing it and do you have plans on writing another one someday?
John Kavanagh: No, I thought maybe my mother would buy a few copies and that’d be it haha. I believe almost 50,000 sold worldwide and talk of a movie adaptation. It’s crazy. Maybe one more book when I’m retired.
After his impressive finish over Niko Price at UFC Sao Paulo, Vicente Luque eyeing Darren Till
When Luan Chagas was forced out of his fight versus Niko Price at UFC Sao Paulo, The UFC called Vicente Luque and he happily accepted.
He stepped in on short notice and took out one of the toughest surging welterweights in Niko Price.
He hurt Price with a counter right before locking in one of his favourite submissions, the D’arce choke. This marked Luque’s 5th win in 6 UFC outings making him one of the brightest young stars in the division.
“I wanted to go out there and have an impressive fight,” Luque said.
“I thought that was very important especially that I was coming off a 4 fight win streak then I had a loss so I wanted to keep that momentum. I think I did that and it definitely puts me back where I was before going after those top 15 guys.”
He now turns his attention to a fellow rising star, Darren Till. Till took out Cowboy Cerrone in the first round last month in Gdansk and Luque feels he would match up well with him.
“I would really like to fight Darren Till,” Luque said. “He’s a great striker and his last fight was really impressive against Cowboy. I’m a striker as well and I would love to test my striking and see who the best striker in the division is.”
And should the UFC decide to go a different direction, Luque would be content fighting anyone in the top 15. With 5 wins and 5 finishes in the division, he feels he’s earned a high ranked opponent or a big name.
“I want a top 15 opponent for sure but if they don’t give me that I’ll be looking for someone with a big name,” Luque said. “Guys like Alan Jouban who already have a name and everybody knows who they are. Those are the guys that I want to be fighting.”
Another name Luque is interested in is Colby Covington who fought on the same card as him. Covington took out former title challenger Demian Maia and proceeded to cut a heavy promo, blasting the Brazilian crowd.
Covington’s harsh and controversial comments towards Brazil didn’t sit well for Luque who sees multiple benefits of fighting him.
“I definitely think that was disrespectful not only to Brazilians but to anybody that watches MMA,” Luque said. “I don’t think that’s the posture of an athlete. I don’t take it personally but I would love to fight him no matter what whether he was disrespectful or not because he’s a top contender.”
The welterweight division is arguably the most talked about division. With rising stars such as Darren Till, Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington and Mike Perry, Luque feels like his name should be thrown in the mix too.
“I think I’m getting up there and slowly getting my spot. I’m having good fights and I know what I’m capable of and that’s what I’m trying to show. I’m doing my thing and I feel that my fights speak for themselves.”
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