Charles Oliveira vs. Beneil Dariush may just determine the next contender for UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev. A fight between Oliveira and Dariush is set for UFC 288 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday, May 6.
UFC officially announced the location for UFC 288 and several fights, including Oliveira vs. Dariush, on Tuesday. Oliveira and Dariush are ranked No. 1 and No. 4, respectively, in UFC's lightweight rankings. Makhachev is without a clear contender in the aftermath of his successful title defense against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284. The champ has expressed interest in fighting both Oliveira and Dariush in various interviews, including at the UFC 284 post-fight press conference.
Oliveira (33-9, 1 NC) will return for the first time since losing the lightweight title to Makhachev in October. The loss nipped a high-octane, 11-fight run that included a world title and wins over Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson. UFC's most potent submission threat has found great strength in his striking, a tool he has used to knock out opponents outright or daze them to set up submissions.
Dariush (22-4-1) is in rare form these days. Dariush, similar to Oliveira, was primarily known for his grappling prowess but has found power and confidence in his hands. His current eight-fight winning streak is the best of his nine-year UFC tenure and includes wins over Ferguson, Mateusz Gamrot, Carlos Diego Ferreira, Drew Dober and Thiago Moises. Dariush makes a strong argument for being the most deserving challenger for Makhachev right now and a win over Oliveira should make his case bulletproof.
Other notable fights announced include Bryce Mitchell vs. Jonathan Pearce, Kron Gracie's return from a 43-month layoff against Charles Jourdain, Marina Rodriguez vs. Virna Jandiroba and Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Devin Clark.
No main event has been announced for UFC 288.