Benavidez was fighting to stay relevant in the title picture, while Ortiz was trying to climb his way back into contention.
Having twice lost to current UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, Benavidez knows that it’s not enough for him to win. He has to win, each and every time, in devastating fashion if he hopes to get another shot while Johnson holds the belt.
That wasn’t to be on this night in Austin.
Ortiz tried to press the fight, but Benavidez timed everything that came at him, avoiding most of Ortiz’s offense, while landing at a nearly three-to-one ratio with his own significant strikes.
Although the majority of the offense was in Benavidez’s favor, he just couldn’t put Ortiz away. He tried throwing everything including the kitchen sink at Ortiz, but it wasn’t enough to break him.
“Aside from his skill, the guy is tough. He stood in there man,” said Benavidez after the fight.
Ortiz stormed after Benavidez from the opening bell, but the Team Alpha Male fighter consistently landed several-part punch combinations that were frequently punctuated by a thunderous overhand right and a kick to the body.
Benavidez came out even quicker in round two, clinching Ortiz and landing several knees before staggering him with a head kick. Just when it looked like he might be able to put a punctuation mark on the fight, Ortiz landed a left hook that stunned Benavidez, slowing him drastically for the second half of the round.
Ortiz tried to take advantage and put Benavidez on the mat, but even when he was successful with the takedown, Benavidez would out-wrestle him and return the fight to the feet.
Benavidez staggered Ortiz again briefly near the end of the second round, and that seemed to clear the cobwebs going into the final frame. He nearly leaped out of his corner and poured on a steady assault of punch combinations and kicks for the better part of the last five minutes, although they once again hit the mat for a time with Benavidez still outwrestling Ortiz.
The fight finished in flurry from both men, but Benavidez was once again a step ahead and much too accurate for Ortiz.
“Dustin was super tough,” said Benavidez. “I know when people watch my fight they’re always expecting that finish, but that was great for me. I fought an awesome opponent in Dustin.”
The victory gives Benavidez back-to-back wins over top opponents in Tim Elliott and Dustin Ortiz since he last lost to Johnson. But he’ll have to keep running roughshod over the rest of the division if he hopes to get another title shot, as long as Johnson holds the belt and two victories over Benavidez.