The no. 9 ranked fighter in the UFC lightweight division, Beneil Dariush spoke with Bloody Elbow ahead of his UFC Fortaleza bout with Edson Barboza. He detailed his fight strategy, traveling back to Brazil, and his feelings that Conor McGregor might be walking away from the sport.
Beneil Dariush is set to square up with the 5th ranked lightweight, Edson Barboza, at UFC Fight Night 106, in Fortaleza, Brazil, on March 11, 2017. The Kings MMA fighter is fresh off a November, 2016 win over Rashid Magomedov, and riding a two win streak heading into his next fight.
Before making the trip down to Brazil, the Rafael Cordeiro trained Dariush spoke with Bloody Elbow about fighting at altitude in Mexico City, his preparation for Barboza, and his feelings that Conor McGregor might be about to walk away from MMA altogether.
Staying focused to best Rashid Magomedov at UFC Fight Night 98:
“One of the things is just making sure I stay focused in the octagon. I really wanted a finish in my last fight, with Rashid [Magomedov], but to be honest, man, I felt like if I made some mistakes out there, he would have definitely capitalized. I needed to stay on him, keeping the pressure on him, because if I didn’t, he has a really good style of just taking points and coasting. He’s been doing that his all of his fights in the UFC, and against tough guys, so I didn’t want that happen to me. I made sure to take the lead and keep it.”
Could you feel the 7,000 feet of altitude in Mexico City against Magomedov?
“Absolutely. At first, I thought it wasn’t going to affect me. I was feeling really good training in the altitude, but in the fight, it’s crazy. I think it had something to do with the nerves plus the altitude. It definitely drained me. I was feeling pretty tired, but thank God I just kept pushing through. I told myself, ‘if I’m tired, he’s got to be tired,’ then just kept going.”
Did anything surprise you about Magomedov?
“His wrestling. I really thought I was going to be able to take him down, and I wasn’t able to. I tried really hard, and that was very surprising.”
UFC Fight Night 106 opponent Edson Barboza:
“He’s fundamentally sound everywhere, so what I have to really do is get out there and make sure I beat him in every aspect of the game. If I allow him to take away with the kickboxing, he’s going to let that happen, and it’s going to discourage me. I have to make sure go in there and I’m ready to mix it up with him, I’m ready to exchange with him. That’s really how I’m looking at it right now, as an MMA fight. I’m not looking at it as oh, I have to take this guy down, or oh, I have to stand with this guy. My gameplan is to just step in there and look for the fight.”
Any special training for the striking game of Barboza?
“My coaches are definitely, I can tell from the training, they have me checking and answering, and just moving forward, and all these things that they want me to do. I think Master Rafael Cordeiro is just trying to put it in the system without going over the gameplan too much. We feel, if you’re going to spend two months getting ready for a guy, there shouldn’t be too much game-planning going on. It should be in your system. It should be in your mind, and everything you want to do should be built into your body. It’s more like that.”
Barboza is best known for his striking, but where is he the most dangerous?
“I think he’s the most dangerous when he gets comfortable. When he feels his opponent is not a threat, he gets comfortable, and he starts to tee off on those guys. That’s when I think he’s the most dangerous.”
Traveling back to Brazil:
“This will be my third trip to Brazil. I fought once before I was in the UFC, and then I fought Carlos Diego Ferreira in the UFC. I’m looking forward to it, man. It’s going to be fun. Brazil is really special. The fans are awesome and I love the food there. I have a lot of friends there, so I got no problem with it. I’m looking forward to it.”
Conor McGregor walking away from the sport:
“If Conor’s not coming back to the 155 division, then Khabib and Tony, whoever wins is going to be the legitimate champion. That’s pretty much how I see it. If not, well shoot, I don’t know. From the looks of it, I think Conor [McGregor] might not be coming back. I don’t know; he might. Who know? So, however that goes, we’ll figure it out. At this point, Conor is still the champ. I’m not going to take away what he’s done, but if he walks away from the sport, It’s definitely Khabib and Tony.”
Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson:
“It’s one of those fights where I want to pick Khabib, for sure, but I’m telling you, Tony can change that fight at any minute. So, it’s going to all come down to who’s going to be able to stay focused throughout that 25 minutes, and implement their game… I’m picking Khabib, still, but we’ll see.”
Eye on both guys:
“I’d like to fight both of them. I don’t just want to fight one of them. I want to fight both of them; that would be amazing… That’s the whole point. I want to fight the best guys in the world, and beat the best guys in the world. If I didn’t think so, I shouldn’t even be here, you know. What am I doing here? I should retire and look for something else to do. I really believe I can beat everyone in this game, and God willing, I’ll get my chance to prove it.”
Watch the #9 ranked Beneil Dariush take the #5 Edson Barboza at UFC Fight Night 106 on March 11, 2017. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all of you MMA coverage including interviews, analysis, results, and more!