September 3, 2013

Billington's Breakdown: Benavidez vs. Formiga

By Roy Billington

On Wednesday night, two of the UFC’s most dynamic fighters do battle, as former WEC title contender Joseph Benavidez faces former Shooto champion Jussier "Formiga" Da Silva in a contest that will be sure to excite fans. This piece will break down both fighters, as well as where the fight will likely be won and lost.

Joseph Benavidez

Benavidez, a former college wrestler, has been a longtime member of Sacramento’s Team Alpha Male. Before his WEC debut in 2008, Benavidez had made his way around the regional fight scene, including a fight in DREAM, racking up a record of 8-0.

n his WEC debut, Benavidez dominated powerful striker Danny Martinez, controlling him throughout the bout. Next up was a fight with noted grappler Jeff Curran, and as he did in his debut, Benavidez dominated the much more experienced Curran, a performance that would ultimately earn him a bantamweight title shot.

At WEC 42, Benavidez met gifted striker Dominick Cruz, and after a hard-fought five-rounder, he was on the wrong side of the scorecards, as judges voted Cruz victorious. But this defeat was an important moment in Benavidez’s career; from that fight onward he adopted a more aggressive outlook. This was on display in his next two performances, as he dominated and finished former number 1 contender Rani Yahya and former champion Miguel Torres.

Benavidez’s spectacular finish of Miguel Torres earned him a highly-anticipated rematch with Dominick Cruz at WEC 50, and after a very close fight, Benavidez lost by split decision. But to this day, Benavidez has come closer than all others to dethroning Cruz, which he can take some solace in.

After the UFC absorbed WEC, Benavidez fought just twice as a bantamweight because after he was victorious against Eddie Wineland at UFC on Versus 5, the promotion announced the addition of a flyweight division, and announced a tournament to decide the division's first champion, a tournament that Benavidez was the favourite in. In the first round of the tournament, Benavidez knocked out Shooto champion Yasuhiro Urushitani and booked himself into a title fight with Demetrious Johnson, but Benavidez‘s disastrous title fight run continued, as Johnson won a split decision, bringing Benavidez to a disappointing 0-3 in Zuffa title fights.

Since suffering the loss to Johnson, Benavidez has been on a roll and has dismantled all comers; since Duane Ludwig took over the coaching reins at Team Alpha Male, all their fighters have improved greatly, and Benavidez was no different.

Skillswise, Benavidez is a devastating grappler -- his wrestling is second to none, and like the rest of his brethren at Team Alpha Male, his guillotine choke is spectacular. The keys for victory for Joseph Benavidez are to keep the fight on the feet and showcase his newfound striking talent, and at all costs, avoid having Formiga take his back.

Jussier Formiga

"Formiga" is a member of the highly-regarded Nova Uniao camp, and has long been mentored by head coach Andre Pederneiras, who was once a UFC title contender. He began his career on the Brazilian regional fight scene, which included a number of first round finishes against oddly named fighters who only ever fought a small number of times. Prime examples of these being a fighter who shared the name of fashion icon Ralph Lauren, and another fighter named "Chacal Chacal," who was so bad they named him twice. Despite lacking quality competition in Brazil, Formiga still rallied onward, defeating 9 in a row before being paired with former Tachi Palace Fights champion Ian McCall. After struggling with McCall’s more diverse skill set and losing a decision, Formiga went back to the drawing board

In the wake of the disappointing loss to McCall, a motivated Formiga began his path of destruction, beating Mamoru Yamaguchi by decision before racking off 4 straight submission victories and being awarded a title eliminator in the UFC.

At UFC on FX 5, Formiga faced The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 winner John Dodson, but on that night Formiga was clearly outclassed. Perhaps Formiga suffered from the mysterious "Octagon Jitters," or was just unable to cope with the step up in competition when facing Dodson, but one thing was for sure when Formiga appeared next against Chris Cariaso: he was twice the fighter, and his performance impressed Sean Shelby enough to give him a shot against the number two flyweight in the world, Joseph Benavidez.

Skillswise, Formiga is a beast on the canvas. Once he takes his opponent's back, it's almost always the beginning of the end. On the feet however, Formiga is very limited, and his wrestling isn’t the best either.

The Verdict

Expect this fight to be controlled by Benavidez. The fight will only ever hit the canvas if he allows it to, and if he decides to keep it on the feet, it’ll end in an early knockout for him.


UFC Fight Night 28
Joseph Benavidez vs. Jussier "Formiga" Da Silva

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UFC Fight Night 28: Teixeira vs. Bader is due to take place on September 4, 2013 at the Estadio Jornalista Felipe Drumond in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC Fight Night 28 will be.


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