Top flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez will return to the octagon on June 9 against No. 4 ranked Sergio Pettis at UFC 225 in Chicago. “Joe B-Wan Kenobi” hasn’t fought since December 2016 due to injury and will try to pick right back up where he left off before ACL surgery.
With that long of a layoff, Benavidez wasn’t sure what the fight promotion had in mind for him upon his return. He could have been given a tune-up fight or thrown right back in the mix at the top of the division. UFC matchmakers opted to give Benavidez a highly ranked and highly regarded opponent in Pettis.
“He’s really tough. I was glad to come back to a top-five opponent to kind of go right back to the top. I didn’t really know what they were expecting out of me after 16 months off and such a long layoff. I didn’t really expect that,” said Benavidez while appearing on the UFC Unfiltered podcast.
Benavidez wanted a top ranked opponent and that’s exactly what he got in Pettis. Pettis has won four of his last five fights. He has name value, and Benavidez couldn’t be happier.
“I wanted to go in and fight right where I was, right where I left off. Thankfully they went up to the very top of the rankings and went through guys that I hadn’t fought, or didn’t have a fight and Sergio Pettis was the first one. He took the fight and I was really happy about it. He’s a stud for sure. I have a ton of respect for him and his team and what he does. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s a great matchup,” said Benavidez.
UFC 225 takes place at the United Center in Chicago on June 9. The headlining bout for the fight card hasn’t yet been announced, but the fight promotion is targeting a bout between middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero. Along with Benavidez taking on Pettis, two other matchups for the pay-per-view event have been announced. Former women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza will face Claudia Gadelha and heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes will meet in the Windy City.