Thomson was a training partner of Makhachev’s at American Kickboxing Academy, so he’s more than familiar with his game. The former Strikeforce lightweight champ thinks Dariush’s well-rounded game could pose problems for Makhachev (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC), who has dominated opposition with his elite-level grappling.
Dariush (22-4-1 MMA, 16-4-1 UFC) currently is riding an eight-fight winning streak after he beat Mateusz Gamrot at UFC 280, but he won’t be next in line for a title shot.
“The only one would be Dariush – that’s it,” Thomson said on his Weighing In podcast. “He’s the only one that I think has the style to beat (Makhachev). He’s so unorthodox. He doesn’t fight like a normal fighter. You want to stand and trade with Islam? ‘I’ll take you down.’ You want to wrestle with me? ‘I’ll stuff your takedowns and force you to stand.’ Dariush doesn’t give a f*ck where you take the fight.
“He does it in a very wild, crazy way. You’re not expecting someone to go Granby roll right out of something into a leg lock into a sit-up and sweep. … He’s not trying to allow you to lock your hands around his body and get you taken down. If you do take him down, he’s going to Granby roll, and if he Granby rolls, he’s going to start fighting the hands. He’s going to give up position and he’s going to fight at a pace that Islam – I know he’s always in phenomenal shape, but he likes to slow it down.”
Instead of Dariush, the UFC opted to go with featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski (25-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC), who will move up a weight class to challenge Makhachev in the UFC 284 main event Feb. 11 at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 284.