Abu Dhabi, UAE – UFC lightweight Beneil Dariush has been out for over a year, but he returns at UFC 280 to take on Mateusz Gamrot on the PPV portion of the card.
“Man I’m so excited. It’s been so long. I had that injury which was mentally and spiritually was very hard to get over. To finally be here at this moment. I’ve got this weight cut I’ve got to take care of but besides that I’m so excited man,” Dariush told the press at media day on Wednesday.
“I’m so happy which is weird. I don’t know if people talk about being happy right before a fight, but I’m pretty excited.”
Dariush (21-4) was supposed to headline a fight night card against now title challenger Islam Makhachev, but now takes on Gamrot on a big PPV.
“On paper I don’t think it’s best case scenario. I think in reality, you know, getting paired up with somebody like Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, those would have been the best case scenario. On paper,” Dariush said.
“For me Mateusz is like top 5. I think he’s very very good. So an opportunity to fight someone as good as him is just as good for me.”
Gamrot (21-1) comes into UFC 280 riding a 4-fight win streak with victories over Scott Holtzman, Jeremy Stephens, Diego Ferreira and Armen Tsarukyan respectively.
“It’s hard to say whether he’s the best guy I’ve fought yet. I’ll know after the fight obviously, but his skill set, his ability to change the pace, go from striking to the ground is….he’s incredible. He has a lot of tools that I think make him special. He’s definitely a championship fighter,” he said.
“Stopping him will be very exciting for me.”
Many had thought that having Dariush on the same card as the lightweight title fight would mean he was the back up in case either Charles Oliveira or Makhachev fell out of the fight. Instead UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski took that spot in hopes of a chance at being a two-division champion.
“I’ve been just processing it you know. It took a while, I was pretty annoyed about the whole thing, so I took a step back. I put myself in everybody’s shoes because calling and yelling at my manager for a while…that didn’t make me feel better,” Dariush said.
“Here’s what I thought about. Volk is pound-for-pound the king right now, right? He offered to be a backup. If I was in the UFC’s shoes it’d be a no-brainer for me as well. It’s not hard to understand why they did what they did.”
It doesn’t mean Dariush was happy about it.
“Does it suck for me, sure it sucks for me, but I understand why everybody did what they did,” he said.
“With that being said I just take my focus back to what I need to do and that’s Gamrot.”
Watch the entire media day scrum with Beneil Dariush above. Dariush takes on Mateusz Gamrot on the main card of UFC 280 on October 22nd.