Benavidez In No Man’s Land

Joseph Benavidez has lost to the current UFC Flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson twice, once in 2012 via split decision for the UFC Flyweight title and in 2013 via KO in Johnson’s third title defense.  Since then both men combined to go on an impressive 13 win run, but rather than offer Benavidez a third crack at the title, Johnson stated that Dana White told him there would be no third bout between both men.  This should not be the case.

Given the lack of depth in the 125 lb division, it’s feasible to make Benavidez the exception to the rule.  Benavidez’s last win over Henry Cejudo in a battle between the top two flyweights behind DJ could have went either way.  Some scored it for Cejudo and some for Benavidez, but the bottom line was that Benavidez got his arm raised and with no instant rematch in play, there also came no real prize for the winner.

Benavidez was scheduled to face Ben Nguyen in June, but was sidelined with a knee injury and replaced by Tim Elliot who lost via submission in under one minute.  The win helped propel Nguyen seeing as he defeated the same man the champion defeated last December, only he did far managed to do it more impressively.  It was probably a good thing that Benavidez didn’t fight “Ben 10” since the chances of him defeating the now 8th ranked flyweight were highly likely, which would have killed off a contender in the process.

Johnson is already short on title contenders and the UFC appears to agree seeing as they were quick to offer TJ Dillashaw the next shot at “Mighty Mouse” without hesitating on whether he should win a fight at 125 lbs first or if Dillashaw would even be willing to remain in the division had he been victorious.  Their plans did not work out and instead we’ll see Johnson attempt to defend his title for a record setting 11th time against the third ranked, Ray Borg in September.

While Benavidez did lose to Johnson via emphatic KO the last time they squared off, it’s reasonable to believe that he like many others got caught and could still present a difficult challenge to Johnson should they meet again.  The KO took place in 2013 and the contest only lasted several minutes long.  The fact that Benavidez has managed to string together six consecutive wins since the loss only to be denied a title shot while we had to witness guys like Wilson Reis, Tim Elliot and Chris Cariasco earn title shots with a lesser resume is pretty foolish.  Benavidez should be used as a measuring stick if they are not allowing him to earn another title shot, but instead he is facing competitor after competitor while guys he has yet to get his hands on are offered a nice pay day and shot at shocking the world.

Unfortunately, Benavidez has the rotten luck of being in a developing division that is unable to shake things up by crowning a new champion.  At this rate it’d be a good idea to move up to take on some bigger challenges at bantamweight, but it would still be all for naught since his teammate, Cody “No Love” is the current champ and the next man in line, TJ Dillashaw is still a training partner and unlikely an option, while the former champ, Dominick Cruz holds two decision victories over him.  The risk of fighting guys lower in the rankings does not offer much incentive either.

There is no timetable for Benavidez’s return, but with the UFC returning to Mexico on August 5th headlined by Sergio Pettis and Brandon Moreno, there’s a good chance we’ll see Benavidez booked for a fight soon.  The bad news is that a win won’t do him any favors unless Johnson were to lose Borg.  The good news, I guess it doesn’t hurt being married to Megan Olivi.

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