UFC 280: Dariush Looks to Hold Ranking Against Upstart Gamrot

Beneil Dariush UFC
Beneil Dariush, UFC 270 backstage Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

After a patient route up the lightweight rankings, Beneil Dariush has a chance to lock in a title shot as he faces a hungry upstart in Mateusz Gamrot at UFC 280.

The stage was set beautifully for Beneil Dariush this past March.  After stringing together a seven fight win-streak, the King’s MMA product was matched up with upcoming title challenger Islam Makhachev in a high stakes bout.  Instead, injury would strike and Dariush found himself out of the conversation as several contenders surged forward with the likes of Michael Chandler, Rafael Fiziev, and his upcoming opponent Mateusz Gamrot all propelling themselves into the upper-echelon of the rankings in the super competitive lightweight division.

This makes Saturday’s bout all the more critical for Dariush.  Turning away a talented veteran like Gamrot will reassert his place in the pecking order, and could put him in position to challenge for the title with a victory.  It would also be a triumphant journey as his workmanlike style has led to a longer route than most before having his career breakthrough.  Following victories over Tony Ferguson, Diego Ferreira, and Drew Dober, being a fresh challenge to Charles Oliveira (should he win) for the title would be the next logical step for both himself and the UFC.

With several top contenders carrying extensive resumes and star power into the title picture, breaking into the conversation is a triumph in and of itself.  For Mateusz Gamrot, an extensive career in the lauded promotion KSW where he was a two-division champion was not enough to be brought right into the mix when he entered the UFC back in 2020.  Coming up short in a split-decision to Guram Kutateladze in his promotional debut also threw the proverbial bucket of cold water on his pursuit of making an immediate impact in the division.

That said, he bounced back with an impressive three fight finishing streak against Scott Holtzman, Jeremy Stephens, and Diego Ferreira.  The run led to his breakout opportunity, a main event slot against Arman Tsarukyan that elevated the status and attention on both men.  The two delivered an exciting contest that saw the veteran experience and conditioning of Gamrot prevail in a five round decision.  At a time when several contenders are jockeying for position, a chance to unseat Dariush from his place in the lightweight pecking order would not only make Gamrot the frontrunner for breakthrough fighter of the year but also potentially set him up for a shot at the belt himself in 2023.

The two are technically proficient fighters, but the biggest weapon on either side is expected to be the speed and volume of Gamrot.  The Polish contender exhibited terrific grappling defense in his last bout and he is expected to be prepared once again should Dariush elect to try to get the fight to the mat.  As such, a potential striking bout between takedown attempts on paper favors Gamrot should Dariush be unable to control the center of the Octagon. For Dariush, forcing more of a brawl in the bout works to his advantage as it both keeps Gamrot at a closer range and opens up opportunities to change levels and get the fight to the mat.

The winner of the bout would merit a shot at the belt on the back of their resume, particularly if Charles Oliveira were to leave Abu Dhabi with the belt as both Dariush and Gamrot would be a new opponent for “Do Bronx”.  Should Makhachev win, the Dariush/Gamrot winner would still be a viable option but face serious competition from the winner of the upcoming bout between Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler in November.  Furthermore, UFC President Dana White also recently announced that featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski would be next to fight for the title which immediately casts doubt on the immediate title aspirations for all the major top-ranked contenders in the division.