After three wins in his first four fights, bantamweight prospect Ryan “Baby Face” Benoit was off to a good start. But it’s been in his last three fights that he’s really blossomed.
Benoit credits his surge to approaching his striking differently, as well as raising the level all around on his individual skills.
“I went down to Mexico a little bit and trained for about a month at (boxing light-middleweight world champion) Canelo (Alvarez’s) gym,” said Benoit. “And when I came back I started training with Jesus Chavez and it’s definitely opened my eyes a lot to a different way of striking.
“Boxing is a completely different game and I respect boxers a lot. I’ve really worked it into my game. And I’ve also worked with a lot of really good Muay Thai guys over the past year. To be in that type of environment has helped me be able to compete at a high level.”
Benoit pointed to his recent results as proof that all the effort he’s put forth has been worth it.
“The work I’ve put in has really paid off, because I fought three times last year and they all ended in the first round pretty quickly. I think that little transition and change has made the biggest effect. Wanting to be the best at every specific category of fighting has the biggest difference as a whole in my game.”
Now sporting a 6-1 record, Benoit returns at MFC 37 on Friday in the promotion’s first bantamweight showdown against fellow up and comer Anthony Birchak (9-1) in Edmonton, Canada, live on AXS TV. The fight was even bumped up to main event status when the original battle for the vacant MFC heavyweight champion had to be scrapped.
“Anthony comes to bang every time and he’s definitely not scared to fight,” said Benoit. “He’s a little wild, I think, but he swings hard, and that’s what promoters and matchmakers want. He’s very aggressive, but he’s got a lot of holes in his game and I can see those holes very easily and I’m going to do my best to expose them.
“I asked for this fight when I saw he signed with the MFC. He’s got a good record, is a real solid opponent, and is up there with me in the rankings. But I think it’s a bad match-up for him and a good match-up for me, and all the work that I’ve put in is definitely going to pay off.”
Not only is this bout important for the history of the MFC, being it’s first major bout at 135 pounds, but it also could prove to be a watershed moment for both fighters’ careers with all the hype surrounding it.
“We’ve been having our little Twitter battles and there’s been a lot of interviews with us talking smack to each other and I think it’s really great for us,” said Benoit. “It’s exposing us so much more to everyone all over the world and it’s going to be the most high-profile fight I’ve ever had and I really want to shine.
“I want everybody to see what I’m all about and really show my potential in this fight.”