Tomorrow night in the co-main event of UFC 289, we are going to see a title eliminator in the lightweight division. Former champion Charles Oliveira (33-9) returns for the first time since his loss to Islam Makhachev as he takes on surging top contender Beneil Dariush (22-4-1).
Oliveira was technically not the champion when he fought Makhachev at UFC 280 in October, but everyone viewed him as such. He missed weight by half a pound for his title defense against Justin Gaethje just over a year ago and was stripped of his title as a result.
Oliveira was submitted by Makhachev in the second round. That loss snapped an 11-fight winning streak for Oliveira where he finished ten of his eleven opponents. His last four wins include Tony Ferguson, Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier, and Justin Gaethje.
Back in March of 2018, Beneil Dariush was knocked out by Alexander Hernandez. He was 0-2-1 in his last three fights and nobody would’ve guessed that he would’ve become a top contender. However, after the Hernandez loss, he won eight straight fights and has been stepping up along the way.
Last May, he dominated Tony Ferguson over the course of three rounds. In October, he defeated Mateusz Gamrot and halted his momentum. Now, he gets the fight of his life and a win will guarantee him a shot at the UFC lightweight champion.
UFC 289 Prediction
This fight is so fascinating for a number of different reasons. On one hand, you have the wrestling and strength of Beneil Dariush. On the other hand, you have the slick jiu jitsu of Charles Oliveira that we all know about. I think a lot of this fight is going to come down to striking.
Beneil Dariush has incredible power and a very good chin. That said, the technique is better overall from Oliveira and we know that he can crack. Justin Gaethje said that Oliveira hit him harder than anyone else has ever hit him in his career.
Both men can take a shot, but we’ve also seen both men rocked on the feet. I’ve been really torn on this pick. The former UFC champion needs to fight composed and really use his technical advantages. If he tries to rush in too much, I could see him getting caught by the power of Dariush or I could see Dariush taking him down.
Dariush’s best route to victory is making the fight a little boring. Oliveira thrives in the chaos. Whether it’s catching a submission in scramble or landing a perfect hook on his opponent, he’s never uncomfortable. Dariush needs to fight with the idea of control.
Big moments are likely going to favor Oliveira. However, I see Dariush being methodical and using his wrestling and not going for anything too big. I also see him having big shots that will land on Oliveira. I’m so torn on this pick, but something tells me Dariush gets it done. I don’t think there’s a finish, but he’ll control enough of the fight to earn a decision and his long awaited UFC title shot.
Prediction: Beneil Dariush by Decision