UFC 289: Beneil Dariush claims he almost quit during a skid before beginning his ascent to contender status.

It was intended for Dariush’s incredible run to the UFC lightweight championship to be his last.

Beneil Dariush appears to be close to accomplishing the pinnacle in combat sports. On Saturday, the co-main event of UFC 289 between Dariush and former lightweight champion Charles Oliveira is anticipated to create the No. 1 contender in the division. From where Dariush’s career was just five years ago, it has come a long way.

In a devastating 42-second knockout loss against UFC rookie Alexander Hernandez in March 2018, Dariush was defeated. The same Hernandez, whose win-loss record in the UFC now alternates between the two. It ended Dariush’s sole winless streak to date of three matches and his second severe knockout loss in a year.

“I believe that if you told an experienced MMA fan in 2018 that this guy would go on to compile this kind of record, they would reply, ‘Nah, I don’t think so. Dariush told CBS Sports, “I don’t see it happening. “To be quite honest with you, I really believe that God engages in the rolling of stones.

“In essence, that means bringing the dead back to life. My career was finished. Nobody, not even me, believed that I would be able to come back after it was finished. I’ll be open and honest with you. Months of prayer went by. Should I continue to battle? I was about to stop working. I began to feel better as a result of tiny things here and there. I declared, “I’m going to try again.” This is it if it doesn’t work out. So here we are right now.

An avalanche has developed from that rolling stone. After Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and incumbent champion Islam Makhachev, Dariush would have the fourth-best winning streak in UFC lightweight history if he wins on Saturday.

Dariush is not your usual cash cow for combat sports. Dariush, a devout Christian and family man, thinks that his honesty is what’s holding up his long-overdue title opportunity. Prior to the Oliveira fight, Dariush met with UFC president Dana White and matchmakers. Dariush believed that his winning streak and the competitive environment for lightweights made him the obvious front-runner. Evidently, the UFC disagreed.

“I believe that they value me and my abilities since I am an athlete. In terms of the entertainment component of it, I think people become a little frustrated with me,” Dariush remarked. I steer clear of most of the drama. There’s a formula you could follow to essentially advertise your battles, but that’s just not who I am, so I don’t. That, along with the fact that I don’t use social media much, I believe frustrates the UFC a little. However, I believe that aside from that, our connection is wonderful.

Although Dariush’s reserved demeanor and dedication to his faith may not be appealing to the larger UFC public, his accomplishments inside the cage have quietly built up a following of supporters eager to see him reach the top.

I’ve never experienced this much support, and it’s just amazing, Dariush said. I’ve never had as many people give me their own interviews with the comment, “Oh, I saw this.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, OK, well, thank you.'”

I’m at the height of my career in terms of viewing, and while I don’t really pay attention to it, I do notice it.

In a division full of deadly competitors like Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, and Oliveira, Dariush is more certain than ever that he possesses the requisite set of abilities to challenge Makhachev. After featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski’s impressive but disappointing performance against the lightweight champion, his belief is even greater.

I honestly think I can defeat this man after seeing that fight, Dariush stated. “I think I have the skills to defeat him,” she said. Jiu-jitsu, wrestling, and striking are all skills I possess. I believe I could not only do what Volkanovski did, but even better, after witnessing him battle Volkanovski and struggle in numerous scenarios. It greatly boosts my confidence.

No matter what, I’m going to defeat him. The majority of individuals, in my opinion, lose the fight before it even begins when they go up against him. They view him as this enormous wall that they are unable to climb, so they give up. The Volkanovski fight made him seem more human, and many of the things I thought would work against him actually do.

Between Dariush and a scheduled title matchup with Makhachev is one more obstacle. Due to his distinctive blend of explosive strikes and submission techniques, Dariush will be competing against the only other fighter in the division. Oliveira, who similarly began 2018 at his lowest point in his career, is now a former lightweight champion with a long list of UFC records to his credit. For Dariush to revive his career, perseverance has been essential. The same kind of perseverance is required to eventually get that coveted title shot.

Charles’ aggressive mindset is the biggest obstacle, according to Dariush. “I believe my durability presents the biggest obstacle for him. What happens if every strike you deliver—kicks, knees, elbows, punches, takedowns—doesn’t have any effect on me? It fails to perform the necessary tasks. Will you be able to rinse and repeat, or will you start to lose your energy and witness me come to life? I believe he will have to deal with some of these concerns.