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Faith in the Fight: Beneil Dariush’s Spiritual Journey Inside and Outside the UFC Octagon


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Beneil Dariush [Image Courtesy: @ufc via X/Twitter]

Beneil Dariush, an Iranian-American UFC fighter, represents a unique figure in the world of mixed martial arts—a sport often characterized by its physicality and aggression. What sets Dariush apart is not just his skill inside the octagon but his outspoken faith.

In an environment where few athletes publicly discuss their spiritual beliefs, Dariush confidently shares his Christian faith, seeing the UFC as more than a battleground but a platform to spread the word of God.

In an interview with CBN last year, Dariush, who came to know the Lord when he was 22, shared the reason why he is outspoken about his faith and how he reconciles fighting with Jesus’ teachings.

“The thing that drew me to Him was Him… [you] read the scriptures and [see] that He didn’t have the brokenness and all the things that I have that I know are wrong… and then on top of that he is willing to give up his life for us.”

The Balance Between Faith and Fighting

Beneil Dariush’s career raises eyebrows among some critics who question how he reconciles his profession with his faith, particularly Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:39 about turning the other cheek.

Dariush acknowledges the importance of this scripture but interprets it with nuance, suggesting that it doesn’t apply universally to every situation.

Just as the Bible calls for individuals to be leaders in some circumstances and servants in others, Dariush believes there is a time for physical competition.

“I understand what it means to turn the other cheek and when the time is right you just [have] to know the difference,” Dariush said. “We do what God tells us to do, so if I have to serve and turn the other cheek, I will. If I have to be a savage, I’ll be a savage.”

A Shift in Mentality

Before embracing his faith deeply, Beneil Dariush approached fights with a singular focus on victory. However, his spiritual journey has transformed his mindset. Today, when Dariush steps into the octagon, his thoughts are not solely on winning but on the humanity of his opponent.

“[I] look at the person in front of [me] that [I’m] going to be fighting—same dream as [me], probably has a family just like [me], trying to support them, trying to make a life for himself. I have to just recognize that I’m in the battlefield and the same people I’m battling I’m supposed to love.”

The Great Commission in the Octagon

Central to Dariush’s mission is the great commission—to make disciples of all nations. He leverages the visibility and platform provided by the UFC to share a clear message of the gospel, especially after his fights.

This commitment to his faith highlights an essential aspect of Dariush’s identity, showing that for him, mixed martial arts is more than a career; it’s an opportunity to fulfill a spiritual calling.

Through this endeavor, Dariush navigates the challenges of being a Christian in a sport that many might not immediately associate with religious outreach, showcasing his faith as a driving force behind his actions both inside and outside the octagon.

Facing Backlash and Finding Common Ground

Sharing his Christian faith openly, especially considering his Iranian heritage, has not been without its challenges for Beneil Dariush. He has faced significant backlash from some quarters of the majority Islamic community in his home country.

Despite the criticism, there are those within the Muslim community who, while they may not share his beliefs entirely, appreciate his efforts to spread a message of hope. This mixed reaction underscores the complexities of discussing faith in a public arena, especially one as global and diverse as the UFC.

Yet, Dariush’s experience also speaks to the possibility of finding common ground, even among differing religious perspectives, through the shared human desires for hope and understanding.

Dariush’s Recent Fights and Future Plans

Dariush is coming off two straight losses, the last one at the hands of Armenian fighter Arman Tsarukyan in Texas. Promotions for future fights in Texas can be found here.

These recent challenges in his professional career do not deter him; instead, they underscore his commitment to using his platform for a higher purpose.

Despite the ups and downs in the octagon, Dariush remains focused on his mission to spread the gospel, illustrating how his faith influences not only how he approaches fights but also how he deals with the outcomes, viewing every step of his career as part of a larger divine plan.

The Future Beyond Fighting: A Missionary Path After Retirement

Photo courtesy: Beneil Dariush Instagram

Beneil Dariush views his UFC career as only one chapter in his life’s mission to spread the gospel. He is clear about his intentions to become a missionary once he retires from professional fighting, dedicating himself fully to making the name of Jesus known across the globe.

This long-term vision for his life after the UFC illustrates Dariush’s deep commitment to his faith, showing that his current platform is just the beginning of a broader spiritual journey he plans to undertake.

In the fiercely competitive world of the UFC, Beneil Dariush distinguishes himself by integrating his faith with his fighting career. Through his perspective on competition, his respectful approach to opponents, and his use of the UFC platform to share his faith, Dariush exemplifies how professional success and spiritual convictions can coexist and enrich each other.

His story is a testament to the power of faith in navigating the challenges of life and career, offering inspiration to those who seek to combine their professional endeavors with their spiritual beliefs.

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