On Saturday, February 6, at UFC Vegas 18, Beneil Dariush and Carlos Diego Ferreira will meet in a lightweight rematch of two of the UFC’s best Brazilian jiu-jitsu stylists. In a recent interview with ESPN, Dariush talked about the fight and broke down Ferreira’s grappling.
The pair first met in 2014 at UFC 179. In that fight, Dariush used a steady stream of takedowns and smothering top control to secure a unanimous decision victory. Now more than six years later, Dariush finds himself on a five-fight win streak, and Ferreira is riding his own six-fight win streak. The fight is a pivotal one for the UFC’s deepest division.
“I don’t want to go 1-1 with someone,” Dariush said of the rematch. “I want to go 2-0 and that’s it, and never have to talk about it again. The idea of losing to him is a big motivator.”
Dariush expects to see improvements from Ferreira, particularly when it comes to defending the takedown.
“I’m expecting him to have much better takedown defense… I think takedown defense will be really important for him, or maybe he’ll try to take me down because last fight, I had so many takedowns on him and I think he’s gonna try to work on that.”
Ultimately, Dariush is prepared to wade into the deep waters that are grappling with Ferreira. Although Ferreira is a third-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and certainly one of the best ground fighters in the division, Dariush is the more credentialed grappler. He was an IBJJF no-gi world champion at blue, purple, and brown belt before turning his focus to MMA. Dariush is the owner of five submission wins in the UFC.
When it comes to grappling, Dariush sees Ferreira’s strength in the scramble.
“When he grapples, he’s phenomenal in scrambles,” Dariush said. Dariush recalled Ferreira’s 2019 fight with Sambo specialist Rustam Khabilov.
“Rustam would constantly take him down but he would turn it into this scramble and find a way up. That’s where I’m gonna have to shut that down. If I get a takedown, you’re not moving, that has to be my mindset,” he said.
“The fear Rustam had was the submissions and I’m going to have to face that fear. I’m going to be like, I have to hold this guy down whether he is gonna try to submit me or not. I’m just gonna have to find a way around the submission and do my job. If I go into there with the fear of the submission, I won’t be able to perform.”
UFC Vegas 18 takes place on Saturday, February 6, and will be broadcast live on ESPN+.