Joseph Benavidez vs. Askar Askarov has been booked for the UFC 259 card.
The bout will serve as a tough bounce back fight for former title challenger, Benavidez (28-7). With the flyweight division wheels turning, Benavidez vs. Askarov should provide further clarity in the division. Although Benavidez has always remained a potent force in the 125lb weight class, he will put his spot on the line against the unbeaten Russian, Askarov (12-0-1).
Five-time title challenger Benavidez (including a bantamweight shot in the WEC) may go down in history as one of the best UFC fighters to never wear gold. Now 36-years old, Benavidez fought for the inaugural UFC flyweight title against Demetrious Johnson, losing both that fight and an eventual rematch. Benavidez would fight for the vacant flyweight title twice in 2020 as well. However in his way, the aggressive Brazilian Deiveson Figueiredo would prove to be a nightmare match-up. In their first outing at UFC Norfolk back in February, Figueiredo ultimately came out on top, but a clash of heads would leave doubt in the viewers’ eyes. In addition to that, Figueiredo missed weight and was ineligible to receive the title after a second round TKO win.
In their second bout, on UFC Fight Island in July, Benavidez lost via rear naked choke, and Figueiredo captured the flyweight title without controversy.
Part of the new wave of flyweight fighters, Askarov will look to capitalize against one of the biggest opponents of his career. Considering his ground work, this should be a tough test for both competitors. Barring a draw to the soon-to-compete flyweight contender Brandon Moreno, Askarov has looked near-perfect in the UFC.
In addition to this bout, the lineup for UFC 259 looks as follows:
Aleksandar Rakic vs. Thiago Santos
Uroš Medić vs. Aalon Cruz
Randy Costa vs. Trevin Jones
Joseph Benavidez vs. Askar Askarov