“If I’m in the Fight of the Night, it better be because my opponent is the best of the best of the best and I better still win,” he said. “If I’m in the Fight of the Night and I lost, I would be very disappointed because I’ve taken extra damage and I still lost.”
So, in other words, Dariush’s bonus hunting this week is all about the Performance of the Night check.
“There are certain fights (that produce FOTN), but if I’m being honest, I don’t know if this is that fight,” he said. “I really believe I can overwhelm him and I plan on doing that.”
Dariush is quietly confident heading into his 12th UFC bout. Owner of an 8-3 Octagon record that includes wins over Tony Martin, Jim Miller, Michael Johnson and James Vick, the No. 12-ranked contender has proven himself to be among the elite. But now it’s time to kick it to that next level, and a main card bout with the No. 14-ranked Dunham is the perfect opportunity to do that.
And, it comes in what is surprisingly Dariush’s first fight in the Fight Capital of the World, Las Vegas.
“Honestly, I don’t know why I haven’t,” he said of his absence from Vegas events. “I really thought I would have fought in Vegas before, but it never happened. I’m excited and I’ve been really looking forward to fighting there. The drive is real easy for me, and I know good places there where I can train and I can rest and just be away from the strip but, at the same time, know that it’s right there.”
Of course, this past week in the city has been like none other after the tragic events of last Sunday at the Route 91 Harvest festival, but Dariush, who was already in town, did get a chance to have some alone time before fight week kicked in.
“It will give me a chance to get my mind off things,” he said of his early arrival. “I don’t have to think about the gym and things like that. I can just focus on training and sleeping.”
Well, that sounds at least half good to those who are less athletically inclined.
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“That’s all good for me,” he laughs. “I love to sleep and I love to train, so it works perfect.”
It’s the difference between fighters and everyone else, and why people will tune in to watch Dariush and his peers compete on Saturday night. So don’t expect him to be thinking about his March loss to Edson Barboza. That’s already in the rearview mirror as he attempts to put together a new winning streak.
“After my first loss, I had a big run,” he said. “Then I lost again and again I had a run against a couple good guys. And now I’m here and I’m getting tired because I don’t want any more losses. So I want to make sure I cover all my bases. I do all the extra work I need to do. I don’t skimp on anything to make sure I get that W every time.”
If you didn’t know it already, losing doesn’t sit well with the ultra-competitive Dariush, especially in his day job.
“I played a little bit of soccer and I never felt like when we took a loss that we really took a loss, if that makes sense,” he said. “In jiu-jitsu, when I took a loss I took it really personally, and obviously in MMA just as much, if not more. I don’t consider it a single-player sport because my whole team helps me so much, but I understand that when it comes to a loss, it’s on me. It’s not on my team.”
That team at Kings MMA does get him ready for battle through battle, with Friday sparring sessions being particularly intense.
“They should add one more result to your Sherdog record because it’s rough,” he laughs, and you have to wonder how such experiences can draw a chuckle when they’re pushing him past his limits when they’re happening. But it’s simple, because when this is all over, Dariush could talk about titles, wins and losses, or he could talk about the journey to get there. He prefers the journey.
“If I sit down with my kids or my grandkids, I might have a story about this fight or that fight, but I can think of a hundred more stories of myself in the gym with my teammates,” Dariush said. “Those are what I consider some of the best times of my life.”