The former bantamweight title contender made an easy cut to 125 pounds for the first time, and then proceeded to knock out former Shooto star Yasuhiro Urushitani to advance to the finals of the first ever UFC flyweight title tournament.
That’s when the night took a turn into a strange series of events.
Benavidez had watched Demetrious Johnson defeat Ian McCall from his dressing room while he was getting warmed up for his fight, and as he walked towards the cage to face Urushitani, he had it in his mind that with a win he’d soon be facing “Mighty Mouse” for the first ever UFC 125-pound championship.
Following the event ending, Benavidez joined the other fighters for the customary UFC post-fight press conference and that’s where he heard the news that felt like an anvil being dropped on his head like something out of a Wild E. Coyote/Roadrunner cartoon.
The commission in Australia had messed up adding the scorecards in the Johnson/McCall fight and it should have actually been declared a draw. So instead of fighting a fourth “sudden victory” round in the case of a draw like the UFC had planned ahead of time, Johnson and McCall would have to battle it out again to see who would face Benavidez in the finals of the tournament.
“It’s really a shame not only for me cause I have to wait to go fight for a title and everything, but it’s just a shame that an opportunity for the sport like that was messed up,” Benavidez told MMAWeekly Radio.
“I think that would have been great for the sport, just the first ever sudden death fight. I feel like Bruce Buffer announcing that the fight is going into sudden death after they already fought their hearts out for three rounds, I feel like the crowd would have just erupted. People would have been calling their friends and telling them to turn on their TV’s and stuff and it would have just been great for the division.”
Benavidez was obviously disappointed with the way things turned out in Australia, especially after he made such an emphatic statement in his fight with the knockout of Urushitani.
The Team Alpha Male fighter knows that there is still a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, he just has to wait a little bit longer to find it.
“I’ve obviously got to wait to fight for the title, but it will be worth the wait,” said Benavidez. “I’ll just be getting better during the time. I want to fight the best guy. I don’t want there to be any question that I beat the next best guy in the division. I’m willing to wait and there’s no one more deserving than those two guys.”
Keeping a positive outlook on the situation, Benavidez will use this time between fights to his benefit.
First things first, he’s going to head to Las Vegas to help his teammate Urijah Faber train his new crew of fighters on The Ultimate Fighter: Live, while he also helps prepare Faber for his third fight with Dominick Cruz this summer at UFC 148.
It’s also a crucial time for Benavidez to work on learning new tricks, improving on any areas he feels might be weak points, and just becoming a better overall fighter.
That’s the part McCall and Johnson should worry about. Benavidez promises to be an even better version of what they saw on March 3 in Australia.
“There’s definitely positives out of this. Everything happens just like it’s supposed to happen; you’ve just got to roll with it and keep moving forward. One of the main things is I’m going to get a lot better in this time. The longer I wait to fight means I’m going to be even better for the fight. This is a full time job for me; I keep getting better,” Benavidez stated.
His full time job may be fighting, but for one night Benavidez is hoping to add a new skill to his resume.
He’s hoping to sit cageside by UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik and analyst Kenny Florian when they call the fight between McCall and Johnson in June.
“I’m hoping actually to commentate it,” said Benavidez. “That’s what I’m looking for. I think that’d be cool, since I’m going to fight the winner. I think it would be cool for them to bring me in. So if anybody’s listening, I’m definitely going to make a case for that.”
And while there’s no doubt that Benavidez is bummed that he has to wait an even longer time now to fight for the UFC flyweight title, he’s thinking of it like putting up his Christmas tree in June and scouring the floor with presents that he can’t touch till December.
“I have to wait a little longer,” said Benavidez. “But it’s just going to make it that much sweeter.”