MMA Ratings Podcast

July 17, 2020

UFC Fight Night: Joseph Benavidez Fighting For His Career This Weekend on "Fight Island"

By Raphael Garcia

Mixed martial arts is an unforgiving sport. It does not reward the proverbial “good guys” or “good women” just because they exist. In fact, it often seems like the worst individuals are heralded as the greatest things to happen to the sport. That is why it has been difficult for some fans to watch Joseph Benavidez’s career. This weekend, he is poised to fight for the UFC flyweight title, just a few weeks shy of his 35th birthday. The term “must win” is used in many different ways across many different sports, but when it comes to MMA, this is as must win as it gets for a man looking to finally reach the top of the championship mountain.

Five times. The main event of this weekend's "Fight Island" event will be Benavidez’s fifth shot at a WEC or UFC title. In his quest to become champion he has faced all-time greats like Dominick Cruz and Demetrious Johnson, and fallen short every time. His last outing was controversial in that he was defeated at UFC Norfolk by Deiveson Figueiredo, who came in two-and-one-half pounds over the weight limit. Benavidez was still eligible to win the belt, but he was stopped via TKO in the second round of that fight. Heartbreak personified.
Now Benavidez is competing once again for the belt. Once again against Figueiredo, a man that some think should not be in this position due to missing weight in the last contest, but a man that stopped him nonetheless. And this is all going on in the middle of a global pandemic that has not only placed a great strain on everyone’s training, but threatened to jettison the bout due to Figueiredo's COVID-19 scare. The struggle is real and is being felt across MMA. Yet here we are, watching Benavidez pull himself up to fight for the championship belt that has eluded him for years.

With a win, Benavidez cements himself as one of the top fighters to grace the 155 and under weight classes. His career includes more than 14 years of experience. Before competing in WEC, he fought for DREAM, one of the biggest organizations in Japanese MMA at the time. And despite those losses to Cruz and Johnson, Benavidez has beaten former champions like Eddie Wineland, Miguel Torres, Zach Makovsky, and Henry Cejudo. Those wins alone put him in a special place among fighters that have competed in the bantamweight and flyweight divisions.
But it's also worth talking about what happens if Benavidez takes the loss. Losing to Figueiredo again would effectively push him out of title talks permanently. Unlike the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions, it is much harder for older competitors to stay relevant in the lighter weight classes. We've seen individuals like Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar slowly lose their position of prominence to the younger generation. Benavidez is in danger of the same outcome, especially if he fails to obtain the title in Saturday’s main event.

There is a lot on the line for Joseph Benavidez on Saturday. He is fighting for the UFC Flyweight Championship, but in many ways, he is fighting for his career. While he may still continue to compete whether he wins or loses, his spot in the title picture if he takes a loss will all but disappear.

UFC Fight Night
Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Benavidez 2 (UFC Flyweight Championship)


UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2 takes place July 18, 2020 at Flash Forum in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

Click HERE for more UFC Fight Night Pre-Fight Analysis


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