One of the biggest losers of the purge of the flyweight division is longtime contender Joseph Benavidez who has yet to hold the title. However, things are trending up heading into UFC Minneapolis.
Las Vegas, NV – The flyweight division seems to be sticking around after champion Henry Cejudo went up in weight and won the 135-pound title. This could lead to a big opportunity for Joseph Benavidez to go for another title shot. However, he’ll have to get by Jussier Formiga in the co-main event of UFC Minneapolis.
Benavidez told media members at the UFC Minneapolis that he is happy with where things are at with the flyweight division that was nearly lost.
“It was good to just get some kind of answer or thought that was going on about. They never said it was cut but it looked like it was so everybody could see evidence. But to come out and say that was great. Even months before that they said that this fight with Formiga would be a number-one contender fight. It would be weird to have a number-one contender fight in a division they don’t plan on sticking around. And since then, they’ve been making fights with different guys. Guys that lost, guys that won. I guess whoever is left since there’s only a few of us. The last of the flyweights. But I think it’s building back up now. Number-one contender fight, saying it’s sticking around, all good signs. For me, business as usual. I have a fight in front of me, worry about that. I’ll handle things as they come.”
The man at the forefront of the flyweight revival is “Triple C” Henry Cejudo, a man Benavidez already has defeated. That victory puts Benavidez ahead of all the possible contenders chasing Cejudo in his mind.
“What’s the state of him is the question. Who knows? He’s kind of all over the place with that. But, at the end of the day, he’s the 125-pound champion. He fought at 135 last. I think it would make sense to fight at 125 again. Of the contenders he could fight, I’m the only one that has history with him. Not only that, a win over him. So you’d figure he’d want to do that, the company would want to do that. No offense to anyone he called out, or anyone that made themselves a number-one contender that night. I just make the most sense with Henry. We have the history, the Ultimate Fighter, one of the best fights of the year, and his last loss is me. It makes sense to do that next. Obviously, I’m always looking to the future but in the present I have to get past Formiga. That’s why you don’t hear me ranting and raving about it because at the end of the day I have a tough fight in front of me and a guy who actually lost a split decision to Cejudo in a close fight and has improved since then. So his two best contenders are at flyweight honestly. A split decision loss and someone that beat. This is the right fight and the rightful contender comes out of this fight.”
After Cejudo’s excellent victory over Marlon Moraes at UFC 238, he called out an interesting cast of characters: Dominick Cruz, Urijah Faber, and Cody Garbrandt. Benavidez can appreciate what he’s doing despite the wacky callout.
“It was wild. Nothing surprises me with that guy anymore. It’s just great to watch from a distance. It’s fun. It’s always something. It’s always something that in a way brings attention. There’s always some kind of soundbite, or picture, or something. The two lightest weight classes, flyweight and bantamweight, you could compound them together and I think a lot’s being done, a lot’s being said, there’s a lot of talk regardless of how it’s happening. I think anybody in the media or the fans know what he’s doing. He’s calling out the biggest names and people that make sense or don’t make sense. They just don’t make sense right now. Those are big names and great fights potentially but in the state of two divisions right now, there’s no question that I’m the best fight for him.”
With the champion on the shelf for the next several months, the flyweight division has time to restock after losing plenty of its talent, and Joseph Benavidez sees good things on the horizon.
“Just continue to make faces, potential stars and people you look forward to seeing fight. I think they’re making a lot of good fights now that are on the docket. Matched up like [Alexandre] Pantoja vs. [Deiveson] Figueiredo. I think Matt Schnell, he’s always a good face that people will realize. I think if they brought back some of the guys they cut that would be great now that things are a little more certain. It’s definitely an opportunity to do that because there probably won’t be a title fight before the end of the year to really bring the attention. So everyone else does what every fighter does, in our division or not, they’ll try to fight for a name for themselves every day. Fight on the prelims, fight towards main events, fight towards people caring about them.”
Joseph Benavidez will look to become the top flyweight contender at UFC Minneapolis next weekend on ESPN. Check out the rest of the scrum above.