by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Stepping into his opponent’s backyard, Joseph Benavidez proved that his undefeated record is no fluke as he got the best of hometown hero, Jeff Curran, en route to a unanimous decision win to vault that much closer to a shot at the bantamweight championship.
While much of the pre-fight hype going into Sunday focused on Curran’s rising rivalry against Miguel Torres, Benavidez obviously kept his eyes solely on his opponent, and he did a great job of breaking him down round after round.
The first round saw Curran’s best performance in the fight, landing good strikes and keeping Benavidez on his toes, but the advantage was short lived. Benavidez used his ultra aggressive style to continuously push the pace, and land the biggest shot in the round when he put Curran on the floor with a huge right hook.
Benavidez was also able to negate Curran’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills on the ground as he stood up over and over again, waiting for the right moment to throw down a big punch looking to finish the Illinois native.
The third round saw Curran land a good takedown on his opponent, but Benavidez squared his hips and got right back up again. Later in the round, it was Benavidez who caught a kick from Curran and landed a nice trip takedown of his own, while again controlling the ground action with good punches from everywhere.
“I did my best, I’m still not satisfied with my performance, but I’m really happy to get the win over a great opponent like Jeff,” Benavidez said after getting the nod by unanimous decision.
The California based fighter also paid tribute to his friend and mentor, Urijah Faber, who plays a big part in every one of Benavidez’s fights.
“Urijah just helps me a ton. I owe it all to him,” Benavidez commented. “Since I moved to California, I owe everything to him and my trainer Master Tong and the rest of my team down there.”
Benavidez now sits poised in the cat bird’s seat as one of the top contenders in the WEC’s bantamweight division.