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HOUSTON – Beneil Dariush did what he had to do to get his hand raised on Saturday night.
The UFC lightweight contender scored the biggest victory of is career, besting former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson in the co-main event of UFC 262. Dariush (20-4-1 MMA, 14-4-1 UFC) out-grappled and dominated Ferguson (25-5 MMA, 15-3 UFC) over the course of 15 minutes to win a 30-27 unanimous decision across the board.
The lightweight clash perhaps didn’t have the fireworks that often pop in a Dariush or Ferguson fight, as it was a clean and controlled approach by Dariush. The 32-year-old had the urge to exchange with Ferguson on the feet, but he resisted and instead took a different tactic.
“At first, I had prepared for the standup, and I was going to show the world that it doesn’t matter who it is in terms of the standup, but I also want to be a champion, and to be a champion, you have to be able to stick to a game plan,” Dariush told reporters at the UFC 262 post-fight news conference. “It’s not always (about) being a bonus fighter. I really felt like after the first round, I felt his arms tire. So why am I going to strike with this guy if I have such an advantage here?”
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Dariush believed he had an easy time getting takedowns on Ferguson. Although the bout didn’t pack as much wild action as his previous bouts, Dariush did put Ferguson in danger on the ground and even seemed closed to getting the finish.
Deep into the fight, Dariush got a heel hook, locked it up and had Ferguson grimacing in pain. However, the tap never came.
“Shock is the first thing (I felt when I didn’t get the tap),” Dariush said. “And I saw him grimace, so I went for the same thing, and he was zombie mode and started kicking me. So I was like, ‘Fine, I’ll come on top, you jerk.’ That’s what I was thinking.”
Dariush hopes Ferguson is all right, as he heard pops from his legs once the submission was locked.
“I hope nothing happened to his knee because that’s where your ACL goes,” Dariush said. “When you go for a heel hook, and it pops like that, your ACL can be gone. I know he’s a super human, and we’ve heard it over and over again, but I don’t want that on anybody. I hope he’s fine.”
Dariush is now on a seven-fight winning streak – a run that includes several notable names and “Performance of the Night” bonuses. He doesn’t have anyone in mind for his next trip to the octagon, as he wants to see how the division shakes out in the coming months with some high-profile fights coming up.