Beneil ‘Benny’ Dariush is an Assyrian-American MMA wrestler fighting under the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) promotion in the lightweight category. He was born in Iran, and his family moved to USA for better opportunities sometime later. Struggling with poverty, Beneil climbed his way up to become one of the most feared MMA fighters. He started his career with Brazilian jiu-jitsu and began training in 2007, eventually earning a black belt in five years, which was an impressive feat. In between, he made his debut in MMA and in 2014 he entered the UFC ring for the first time, which was his ultimate goal. In his debut match itself, he showed what he was made of and won his match against Charlie Brenneman through a submission. After that, his career has gone through several ups and downs but Beneil’s reputation as a competitive MMA fighter has always remained intact. In his fight against Daron Cruickshank in 2015, he won his one and only ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus and in other promotions before UFC, he has been the RITC Lightweight Champion and has also defended his title once successfully.
Childhood & Early Life
Beneil Dariush was born on May 6, 1989, in Hamadan, Iran. His parents were of Assyrian descent. Their life back in Iran wasn’t very good and the entire family had to move to the USA to provide a better life to their children. Beneil was 9 at that time and wasn’t very excited about moving to a strange new place.
In America, Beneil had a massive joint family and he grew up among more than twenty cousins and sisters. The family indulged in farming and along with pursuing his education, Beneil helped his father and uncles with agriculture, which helped him achieve an athletic build early on.
When his family first came to the USA, none of them knew a word of English and that, in a way, cut them off with others kids in the neighbourhood and Beneil and his sister Beraeil Dariush spent most of the time playing with their cousins and this turned Beneil into a socially awkward kid.
When he was 18 and getting along with the English language, his interest sparked in martial arts as he located a jiu-jitsu gym near his house. His mother didn’t allow him to enroll in there and Beneil went there himself. He liked what he saw and joined the classes despite his mother’s outrage against it.
Just out of high school and looking forward to his college education, Beneil started training in BJJ in October 2007 under Bruno Paulista and with the perfect guidance of his coach, Beneil started participating in local jiu-jitsu tournaments and the trophies started coming in. His training under Bruno went on until the tragedy, which landed Bruno in a hospital after which Beneil joined one of USA’s top BJJ academies, Gracie Barra Northridge.
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His training for MMA started during the time he was touring around the world bagging BJJ honours. He won the Pan-American Championship in Blue belt in 2009 and achieved the second spot in the World Championships in 2009, 2010 and 2012. Needless to say, he rose to the national fame in the sport, but money wasn’t much so he shifted his focus to appear in UFC, the grand MMA event and his career achievements were enough for the UFC management to give Beneil a fair chance in the ring to exhibit his skills.
Before UFC though, Beneil Dariush had already participated in MMA fights for different promotions. After starting in 2009 till 2013, he remained undefeated in all the fights that he fought under Respect in the Cage, High Fight Rock and Samurai Pro Sports promotions. Four of those victories came to him in the first round, which meant that he was a force to reckon with; he just required a bigger stage.
He won ‘RITC Lightweight Championship’ against Trace Gray in a January 2013 match and defended it successfully against Jason Meaders in May 2013. The latter was his last fight before he got associated with the UFC.
On January 15, 2014, Beneil made his in-ring debut in UFC and his match was scheduled with Jason High, but he pulled out due to some illness and Charlie Brenneman was selected as his opponent. Charlie was making a comeback after a long hiatus and compared to the young and energetic Beneil, he seemed weaker in the fight since the first few minutes. Beneil easily won the fight in the first round via submission.
In April 2014, he faced Ramsay Nijem in his second UFC match but he could not repeat his impressive performance and Ramsay knocked Beneil out in the first round.
He learnt the lesson to never take any opponent lightly and carefully approached his third fight, where he was pitted against Tony Martin on August 23. The victory came in the second round, when he forced his opponent to submit.
In his pay per view debut in October 2014, Beneil faced Carlos Ferreira and handed him his career’s first loss and in the very next match, he went on to receive his first ‘Performance of the Night’ award. In the fight, he faced Daron Cruickshank and compelled him to submit in the second round.
In August 2015, he got embroiled into a mild controversy over the outcome of a fight in which he was pitted against Michael Johnson. The split decision declared Beneil the winner but most of the media outlets condemned the outcome and said that it was unfavorable to Johnson as he was a better fighter during the entire fight.
In January 2016, Beneil pulled his name out of a fight citing an undisclosed injury and when he made a comeback in April against Michael Chiesa, he lost the fight in the second round.
He made up for the loss against Michael in his next match against James Vick just two months later and knocked him out in the first round for the win. Beneil was on a roll and continued his winning streak against Rashid Magomedov in November 2016 after winning the fight with anonymous decision.
On March 11, 2017, Beneil fought against Edson Barboza but he was knocked-out in the second round.
His next fight and the last for the year 2017 is to take place in October and he is supposed to face Evan Dunham, a very tough opponent.
Beneil Dariush has been very close to his mother ever since he was a child. When he decided to join MMA, his mother wasn’t ready to see her son fight in a ring and she almost stopped talking to him. When Beneil’s sister talked to their mother, only then she understood and started supporting her son.
Beneil loves spending time with family and when he is not travelling or training for a fight, he visits his family and his cousins, who have been very close to him since childhood.
Beneil is also involved in charity work and donated a generous amount of sum for the 2010 Haiti earthquake survivors. He also sends money to the poor Assyrian people in the Middle East. They have been a minority due to their extensive belief in Christianity, which doesn’t set well with the Muslims of the Middle Eastern countries.