Beneil Dariush to face Islam Makhachev at UFC Fight Night in February in five rounds

UFC lightweights Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev have agreed to meet on February 26, manager Ali Abdelaziz told ESPN.

The five-round, 155-pound fight will headline a UFC Fight Night, said Abdelaziz, who leads both fighters.

The promotion has yet to announce a location for that event.

“I don’t like when two guys that I really love have to fight, but these two have worked their entire lives to become champions and this is a number one contender match,” Abdelaziz said. “Whoever wins this fight will fight for the title, so who am I to tell them not to fight? They are at the top and I wish them both the best of luck.”

The winner will have a solid case for a lightweight title shot in his next appearance. According to the UFC rankings, Dariush and Makhachev are No. 3 and 4, respectively. Dustin Poirier, ranked number one, will challenge Charles Oliveira for the title in December.

Second-placed Justin Gaethje is also on the hunt for the title.

In addition to agreeing to the Feb. 26 showdown, the two lightweights signed new contract extensions with the UFC, according to sources.

Dariush (21-4-1) has a seven-game winning streak, including a unanimous decision over former interim champion Tony Ferguson in May. The 32-year-old fighter was born in Iran but now fights in Huntington Beach, California with Kings MMA.

Makhachev (21-1) has won nine in a row and finished with all three opponents he faced in 2021. He is a teammate of former retired champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov is a regular fixture on Makhachev’s corner.