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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Donagh Corby

UFC star questions backup fighter announcement for Charles Oliveira vs Islam Makhachev

UFC star Beneil Dariush has admitted he was confused by Alexander Volkanovski's declaration that he is the back-up fighter for the main event of UFC 280 this month.

The No.6-ranked lightweight i facing Mateusz Gamrot on the star-studded show that is headlined by a lightweight title fight between Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev. But he was surprised to hear that, should one of the two main event fighters pull out, he would be overlooked in favour of the featherweight champion.

Volkanovski is ranked No.1 pound-for-pound in the promotion, and hasn't loss under the UFC banner as yet. He has been angling for a world title bout at 155lb so he can emulate Conor McGregor's famous achievement, and is heading to Abu Dhabi in the hopes that he can do just that on short notice.

He told fans in a tweet yesterday that "it’s official, I’m the back up fighter for the lightweight title." But Dariush claims that he has been told the same thing, and doesn't understand why Volkanovski would be making such a claim given the talks he has had with the UFC.

The featherweight champion broke his hand as recently as July 2 when he defeated Max Holloway for a third time at UFC 276, and his hand was in a cast until recently. But he had joked very soon after the injury that he planned to be punching by October just in case something were to happen in Abu Dhabi.

‘Honestly, I’m confused,” Dariush said during an appearance on Sirius XM. “I don’t know if he’s playing games or the UFC is playing games, because I was told I’m the fill in. That’s the whole point of having another lightweight fight on that card, just in case something goes wrong, so I don’t understand what’s going on here. I’m trying to get to the bottom of it, but ultimately I have one goal and that’s Gamrot. But I really thought I was the fill in, that’s what I was told.”

Beneil Dariush believe that he is the back-up for UFC 280's main event (Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Who do you think should be the back-up for the UFC 280 main event? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Dariush is managed by Ali Abdelaziz, a powerful player in the MMA world who also takes care of Makhachev and the legendary former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. He claims that the deal to be the back-up was never put in writing, but through a verbal deal with Abdelaziz.

The promotion have yet to make Volkanovski announcement official, so it remains to be seen what will happen in the case the fight is jeopardised. Nurmagomedov himself claimed that he expects Makhachev will be facing Dariush instead of Oliveira in a tweet last month, but it now remains to be seen who would fill that spot.

Historically, the back-up fighter is known to be given the next title shot if they don't end up fighting that night, so it is important for the issue to be clarified. Aside from Makhachev who himself is in the main event, Dariush is the highest-ranked contender who has not fought for the title within the last year-and-a-half.

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