Multi-time flyweight title challenger Joseph Benavidez has retired from mixed martial arts.
On Wednesday, reports surfaced that Benavidez (28-8) had been removed from both the UFC flyweight rankings and fan rankings. A few hours later, MMA Junkie was first to report that the four-time title challenger had retired from active competition. ESPN later added that he removed himself from the USADA testing pool.
Benavidez spoke to ESPN, the UFC’s official broadcast partner, about the decision.
“I kind of knew I wasn’t gonna fight, but I was just kind of letting it linger. You never know. But it’s just come to that point. These guys are killers,” Benavidez said.
“They’re all the guys I’m gonna fight next. All these killers coming in that would be my next fight are coming up to me and saying, ‘Dude, I have to take a picture with you. I used to come home from school and watch the WEC with my dad.’ That all feels really great to hear. But it’s not fun for me to fight a guy who tells me that. I don’t want to beat them up or for them to beat me up, either.”
Benavidez is a 26-fight UFC veteran and four-time UFC title challenger. He fought for the inaugural UFC Flyweight Championship against Demetrious Johnson; however, he lost that fight via split decision. He would rematch Johnson 15 months later after fighting his way back to the title only to wind up knocked out.
‘Joey B’ would go 9-1 over the next seven years and would challenge Deiveson Figueiredo for the vacant flyweight title in 2020. He would lose via TKO but get an immediate rematch because after his opponent missed weight— with a head butt landed in the fight also playing a factor. Five months later, Benavidez would be submitted in the first round. It was his final shot at gold, and Benavidez seemed to know it.
Joseph Benevidez’s wife Megan Olivi tweeted out her support Wednesday.
Retirement adventures are gonna be fun ☺️👑❤️ My King Forever @JoeJitsu
— Megan Olivi (@MeganOlivi) September 15, 2021
UFC president Dana White also spoke about Benavidez’s retirement in a statement to ESPN.
“Joe Benavidez has been a pillar of the lighter weight divisions for years,” White said. “Since joining WEC in 2008 and then UFC in 2011, he’s used his unstoppable pace and nasty guillotine to remain at the top of two divisions for 13 years. … His epic battles with [Dominick] Cruz, [Demetrious] Johnson, and [Henry] Cejudo will never be forgotten. He was a constant professional and carried himself in a way that demanded respect from his peers.”
We at Cageside Press wish Joseph Benavidez a happy retirement. He was an MMA pioneer for smaller fighters and a legend in more ways than one.