Las Vegas, NV — Back in May, Gabriel Benitez was expecting to face Jonathan Pearce in a featherweight fight, his first of 2021.
Only, it didn’t happen when Benitez missed weight. While the weight miss is admittedly on him, what happened after took him by surprise: his opponent, who had briefly agreed to a catchweight, turned down the fight.
Two weeks before his fight, Benitez fell ill, he told media outlets including Cageside Press during this week’s UFC Vegas 31 media day. “I ‘m thinking like, it was COVID, but nah. You know when you get sick, it’s hard dropping weight. The UFC, matchamker, everyone knew that.”
Benitez wanted to do his best, to make it down to 146lbs. He also called for a catchweight. “In the beginning, the other guy said no, but that day, he said yes. And he stepped on the scale at 146. These things happen a lot.”
It’s rare that a fighter turns down an opponent who has missed weight. But even though it was his own mistake for missing weight, “I was, yeah I was mad. I was angry. Because before, he said yes, the fight goes on,” admitted Benitez. “But after that, I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. It was not the best choice for his career. I don’t know. Every head is a war.”
Despite missing weight at featherweight, Benitez is right back at 145lbs this week. “I want to fight in both weight classes, but in my main, I want to fight at 145. That’s my main. If someone drops [out] of fights, they can say ‘hey Moggly, I have this opponent at 155, you want to take it?’ Of course.” For Benitez, it’s about money. And luckily, the UFC are willing to give him another shot at the weight.
This week, it’ll be Billy Quarantillo that Benitez is up against. “Everyone says he’s a good opponent, because he always goes forward, like my style,” he noted. “But I know he’s better on the ground. It’s good for both.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 31 media day scrum with Gabriel Benitez above. Benitez faces Billy Quarantillo this Saturday, July 17 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.