Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight contenders Beneil Dariush and Rashid Magomedov threw down last night (Nov. 5, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 98 inside Arena Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico. Ranked inside the Top 10, Dariush came into this bout off perhaps the strongest performance of his career, a brutal first round knockout. If he could take out the nearly unbeaten Russian, Dariush was due for another high-profile opportunity. On the other hand, this was Magomedov’s big opportunity. He wasn’t able to fight all that consistently due to some injuries, but the kickboxer has been absolutely fantastic while inside the Octagon, and this was his chance to really announce himself as a factor at 155 pounds.
Dariush threw several kicks to start the bout before pushing his way into the clinch. He committed heavily to takedown attempts, but Magomedov defended and reversed before returning to the center of the Octagon. Dariush continued his kicking attack, aiming for Magomedov’s head and body. Nothing really got through, but Magomedov didn’t return fire either. However, the Russian did control his opponent along the fence and finish the round with a takedown.
On the whole, it was an incredibly close round.
The strategy remained the same into the second round. Dariush kept kicking, and his opponent landed a few decent counters. Even then, Dariush hung around at range, firing back low kicks. This time around, though, it was Dariush who was able to control his opponent against the fence for a long period of time. He didn’t do anything too significant, but it allowed him to implement his game plan a bit more.
It wasn’t dominant, but Magomedov allowed his opponent win the round.
Luckily, Magomedov’s corner put the fear of losing a lackluster decision into his head, as the Russian went after his opponent to start the final round. Dariush was still able to latch onto the Muay Thai plum and land some knees, but this time Magomedov did a far better job of ensuring his back wasn’t on the fence.
On the whole, this was Magomedov’s strongest round of the fight. He was able to land some hard shots, whereas Dariush was slowing down. That allowed Magomedov to land in the higher volume and keep his back off the fence, the two areas in which Dariush found his edge earlier in the fight.
Ultimately, it was an incredibly close bout. Despite that, two of the judges awarded Dariush all three rounds, giving him the unanimous decision victory.
A Dariush victory on its own is perfectly reasonable, but 30-27 is confusing to say the least. Dariush’s clinch played a huge role in this bout. While he wasn’t able to land any takedowns — in fact, he was put on his back twice — Dariush controlled his foe along the fence and landed a fair amount of knees.
They weren’t devastating, but volume is important in such a close bout.
Besides that, Dariush’s Southpaw kicks were on point in this bout. He wasn’t always able to land, but he did a spectacular job of digging low kicks when Magomedov tried to counter his kicks with punches. Either way, a win is a win. Dariush is in the top 10 on a win streak, and that puts him reasonably close to a title shot. After this victory, a match up with someone like Edson Barboza would make sense.
Magomedov has an argument to winning this fight, but he ultimately gave it away by sitting back for far too long. The Russian simply didn’t throw enough volume until the third round, and by then too much of the fight had passed. Similarly, he was content to work with his back on the fence, which is costly in the eyes of the judges.
On the bright side, Magomedov’s takedown defense is incredible. Plus, when the Russian did chose to throw, his strikes were accurate and clearly landing with an impact. If he can learn to attack more often, Magomedov is still a potential contender.
Last night, Beneil Dariush out-worked Rashid Magomedov in a tight bout. Where does Dariush go from here?
For complete UFC Fight Night 98: “dos Anjos vs Ferguson” results and play-by-play, click HERE!