Iranian UFC fighter Beneil Dariush took a moment during his recent victory speech to share the hope he has in Christ with the people of his country amid weeks of social unrest following the death of Mahsa Amini.
Dariush's skills were on full display as he defeated Mateusz Gamrot at UFC 280 last Saturday. His win, by unanimous decision, was his eighth victory in a row.
Following the intense match, the Iranian-born American MMA fighter changed the course of his interview to share a specific message with his native people.
"I'm sorry, Daniel, but I got to take a minute. I need to dedicate this fight to my people in Iran," he told the reporter in the ring. "I know you're struggling. I know you're fighting for freedom. I know it's a tough struggle. I want you guys to know we're praying for you, and we love you."
The 33-year-old shared one final thing for his people and everyone listening.
"Let me tell you one more thing," the mixed martial artist added. "This might be the most important thing you'll ever hear: there is true freedom, a freedom that no one can take from you in the name of Jesus Christ, the son of God. Don't ever forget that. If you remember one thing I say, remember that."
He was also asked what he needed to do to chase down a championship opportunity.
"Here's what I will tell you: My crown will come from my Lord and Savior," he stressed. "I don't care if I have to win another 10 fights before I get this belt; I'll do it."
On Thursday, Iran announced sanctions against eight institutions in the European Union amid anti-government protests across Iran.
The demonstrations were prompted by the death of 22-year-old Amini, a young woman arrested by Iran's morality police on Sep.13 for allegedly defying the Islamic government's strict requirement for women to wear hijabs or headscarves. Amini died while in custody three days later, which sparked anti-regime protests across Iran.
In a past interview posted to YouTube, Dariush shared how his faith in Christ kicked into high gear. Growing up in Los Angeles, the Iranian native and his family ran into money issues, and he was asked to help financially.
"I was in such a bad place I actually started to pray," he revealed.
"I came up in a Christian family in a way, like, for example, we go to church on Christmas and Easter. That was our family. We would go to church in LA where everybody speaks Aramaic, so it was more of a cultural thing than it was anything else," Dariush added.
The fighter recalled a time when he prayed to God to show He is real by providing an opportunity. A week or two later, he received his first call for a professional fight in Brazil.
"It got to a point that everything I prayed for I got and I felt guilty," Dariush testified.
God's faithfulness made Dariush feel he should surrender his life to Christ fully.
At 24, Dariush read the Bible and began to study. He felt convicted by what he read and eventually gave his life to the Lord. He now shares his Christian faith regularly.
Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic