Benil Dariush: “Islam Makhachev is trying to escape”

Benil Dariush:

UFC lightweight number four Benil Dariush, who faces Charles Oliveira in a potential challenge match, has commented on the news that reigning division champion Islam Makhachev wants to challenge Leon Edwards’ UFC welterweight title next.

“I don’t get it – what about the title defense?” Dariusz told Submission Radio. “What is happening to him? Maybe he’s having a hard time making weight and wants to go higher and relax? I think he should focus on his division. We have a lot of great fighters and I think our division is the best in the organization. I don’t know why he’s trying to escape to other divisions.”

“When I saw this, my eyes popped out of my head – it upset me very much. Maybe he just doesn’t want to take the risk. Before that, he went to Australia, almost lost the title, and he thought it would be nice, like Volkanovski, to rise up and fight without risking his championship belt. I can understand that – in the long run it’s a big reward with a minimum of risk, but that’s not how a champion should rule the division and keep it active.”

At the same time, Dariush believes that Makhachev’s foray into welterweight would have ended for the Russian not in winning the second championship belt, but in defeat.

“I am inclined to believe that Leon would have won by decision, but I do not rule out an early victory for Leon. I have noticed that Makhachev has an advantage in physical strength in all his fights, and he uses it very well. In the fights against Arman Tsarukyan and Alex Volkanovski, his strength advantage was not overwhelming, and he had big problems with these guys.

“Yes, he will not drive weight, he will become even stronger, but Leon can fight five rounds, and he knows how to fight, knows how to get up. Leon can be very calculating and I don’t think this is a good fight for Islam Makhachev. Leon Edwards is one of the most versatile fighters in the UFC right now – he can wrestle, stand up, he has jiu-jitsu and he puts it all together really well.”

Recall that the fight between Benil Dariush and Charles Oliveira will take place on May 6 at UFC 288 in Newark, and Islam Makhachev should return to the octagon on October 21 at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi.