UFC Apex Fight Pick: Beneil Dariush vs Scott Holtzman

Benny Dariush! We thought we had lost ya there for a minute, man!

After three straight fights without a win in about a year’s time in 2017, it looked like Beneil Dariush was possibly coming to the end of his UFC career.

Flying knee loss to Barboza, draw with Evan Dunham, and a TKO to Alex Hernandez… I understand the Barboza thing and Evan is a highly skilled guy but Alex Hernandez… That one bugs me because I know Beneil is on another level than Alex The Not So Great who has lost 3 in a row now, essentially.

It has been 4 consecutive wins rattled off by Beneil, though, and an impressive 12-4-1 overall UFC record. 75% winning percentage mostly fighting top 15 guys is pretty solid.

I was quite surprised to see that the Kings MMA product fighting out of Assyria just turned 31 years old in May. We have seen so much from the guy and he has always been such a class act.

It really seems like longer than 6.5 years that Dariush has been competing inside the Octagon.

Dariush is very well-rounded but also dangerous at the same time.

You don’t see that very much still in the UFC unless they are a new generation type of fighter who has been training MMA as an art since they were yutes.

Dariush is younger than his opponent, Scott Holtzman, who is a dangerous fighter in his own right but maybe just a little less skilled everywhere.

Scott could hold a physicality advantage in this one but that may be his only box checked over his opponent.

Fighting out of Knoxville, TN, and training at the MMA Lab in Phoenix under the famed John Crouch, Holtzman loves to walk down his opponents and box in the short range.

He doesn’t offer much from the outside and with Dariush holding a 3-inch reach advantage, Scott is most likely gonna have to take one to land one.

BetOnline.AG has the betting odds on this one. Remember to bet directly from this article and let’s get to our pick for Dariush vs Holtzman.

Beneil Dariush (-170) vs Scott Holtzman (+150)

This may be the time that we see Benny make a run in the UFC’s Lightweight division. It has to start here, though, with a win against Hot Sauce Holtzman.

Scott is a low volume guy unless he has made his way to the inside and that’s when he likes to let his hands and elbows go and pretty effectively, I might add.

Holtzman also likes to push for takedowns but I don’t think he will be too gung ho about that strategy against a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt.

Benny has pretty solid striking after training at Kings MMA under the former Chute Boxe chief, Rafael Cordeiro for years. We forget that Dariush’s base is BJJ.

One of Holtzman’s only advantages in this fight might be his wrestling ability but if I was his coach, I would advise against it unless my fighter is getting tooled up on the feet.

Scott has had opportunities to prove he belongs on a higher tier of fighters in the Lightweight division but he has come up short each time.

This is even true of his last fight which he won against Jim Miller but if you want to be top ten in the deepest division in MMA, you need to put away guys like Miller.

I like Scott’s game and he usually isn’t a bad bet as he will fight for your money but I just think he is going to have a very hard time with Dariush.

Benny has a little bit better kicks to compliment his range advantage as well as being a much better grappler on paper and from the eye test.

Scott is just a little too low volume from distance and possibly too patient as well. I think Benny is going to establish the jab and probably a body kick as well early on.

Scott is going to have to come to Benny to take him out and I believe Dariush will catch him coming in more often than not and use better footwork to keep the Tennessean at the end of his strikes.

Whether or not this fight goes the distance, I don’t really have a strong read there. Scott has never been finished in his career but Benny has finished 3 out of his last 4 wins.

I think a decision is likely but the sportsbooks disagree. I know these two are gamers but Scott has never been finished in 17 pro fights.

Dariush is (+315) to win by decision. That is rather tempting. I am not going to lie but I have been getting murked on “method of victory” betting lines lately. He is just (+125) to win inside the distance, though.

Follow the narrative or chase the big money?

The over 2.5 rounds is even money at 5dimes.eu.

Let’s put 2 units on Dariush to get the victory outright at (-170). Then we will sprinkle one unit on the over 2.5 rounds at (+100).

I realize Drakkar Klose, Benny’s most recent opponent had never been finished either and he didn’t make it out of the first round.

A finish is surely possible but I put it at around 40%.

Benny has about a 50% finish rate which is excellent but I think that number drops to 40% against a guy who has never been stopped.

So, if we cap the over 2.5 at 60%, we have a 10% edge on the books. That’s enough for a 2 unit play but we will keep it at 1 because we are wagering two on the moneyline.

My Picks
Beneil Dariush
-170
Over 2.5 Rounds
+100

In Conclusion

I feel like it’s always a fun fight when Beneil Dariush is involved.

He is a kill or be killed fighter but in this contest, it will behoove him to keep his opponent at range where he is his weakest. This plays into the fight going past the 2:30 mark of the final round.

Dariush can time a punch or kick very well but isn’t known to have lights out power in his strikes. He finished James Vick with punches but so have several others.

His recent TKO of Drakkar Klose was one of the more impressive wins of his career, actually, because Drakkar was on a roll himself.

I like Holtzman and he might surprise me here but Scott is about to be 37 next month and I don’t see him all of a sudden making giant leaps in skill at this point.

He is who he is and Dariush matches up very well with him.

Get your bets in now, guys. I think this line might get to (-200) by fight time.

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.