The co-main event of UFC 289 features two top lightweights both looking to cement themselves as the next contender for the 155lbs strap, currently held by Islam Makhachev. The former champion and finishing phenom, Charles Oliveira takes on the in-form Beneil Dariush and many believe that the winner will compete for the belt next.
As things stand, we know that Islam Makhachev is the hunted at 155lbs. He’s made a single title defence, narrowly defeating featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski in February of this year. We know that he isn’t currently booked to compete, however, we also have it on good authority that he will sit out until the UFC’s return to Abu Dhabi for UFC 294 in October.
The #2 and #3 ranked fighters, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje will fight for the BMF title at UFC 291 in July, so that potentially rules them out.
Michael Chandler is ranked #5 and is scheduled to face Conor McGregor at some point this year.
After that, we then get to the mid-level fighters in the division, Rafael Fiziev (coming off a loss to Gaethje), Mateusz Gamrot (1-1 in his last two) and Arman Tsarukyan (booked to compete in June).
The only logical next fight for Makhachev is Oliveria or Daruish… depending on who wins in Vancouver.
How Oliveira and Dariush Match-Up
The two men cannot claim that they were unprepared for each other as the bout was originally scheduled for UFC 288 a few weeks ago. Oliveria had to withdraw from that one with an injury, however, it wasn’t serious enough to keep him out of action for too long.
Both men are extremely well-rounded, making for an intriguing match-up for sure. Oliveria’s ground game is phenomenal, as we know. He’s the record holder for most submissions in UFC history with 16 and most finishes with 19. Despite only notching three finishes via strikes, we’ve seen his stand-up game come on a lot in recent times. The Makhachev fight aside, he’s pieced up almost every top-level opponent he’s faced on his way to victory. Chandler was dropped heavily, as was Gathje, which in turn saw Oliveria grab the neck, so we can’t sleep on his hands at all.
Daruish on the other hand has a mauling ground game. As legitimate a black belt as they come, he’s recorded eight submission victories across 22 wins. Importantly, he’s only been finished once via submission, back in 2016. He’s got heavy hands and slick boxing, both of which we saw on display in his last outing against Gamrot. His timing is impeccable and was able to defend 15 of Gamrot’s attempted 19 takedowns as a result of this.
Expect this one to be a well-fought battle for as long as it lasts, with exciting exchanges throughout. The winner of this one should certainly call for a title shot in October.