Joseph Benavidez Knows He’s in a Tough Spot, but Still Eyes Another UFC Title Shot

February 11, 2016

Joseph Benavidez has only lost to two fighters in his 10-year mixed martial arts career: Demetrious Johnson and Dominick Cruz.

After competing as a bantamweight for most of his career, the 31-year-old dropped down to the flyweight division in 2012. In his second fight at 125 pounds, Benavidez fought for the vacant title against Johnson. He lost by split decision. After stringing together three consecutive wins, he faced Johnson a second time and was knocked out for the first time in his career.

JosephBenavidez397WEC37-750Benavidez is riding a five-fight winning streak since his last loss to Johnson in 2013, but it’s difficult to earn a third title fight when he was defeated the first two times. Although he’s ranked number one in the division, Benavidez knows that two losses to Johnson will be difficult to overcome.

“I’m not kidding myself or anybody else. I lost to the champion twice. I’ve got to do a ton of stuff and be very impressive to get a third title shot. I understand that,” he said during the UFC Fight Night 82 post-fight press conference following his unanimous decision win over Zack Makovsky.

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“Obviously, I’ll fight for the title any time, and I know I can go out and put a competitive fight on with the champion any single night, but I also realize that there’s a lot to be done because of what has happened in the past,” he said.

Getting back to a title fight is what motivates Benavidez. It’s what drives him to put in the hard work in the gym and improve his skillset.

“To me, it’s an inevitable thing. I’m not going to lose until I get there (another title shot). Of course, I’m not out here begging for a title shot since I lost two. No one has to ask; of course I’d fight for the title shot. That’s the fight I want. That’s the fight I work towards every single day,” said the flyweight contender.

Unbeaten Henry Cejudo faces Johnson at UFC 197 on April 23. Benavidez could find himself lined up against the winner, or against another contender in the division. He’s okay with either scenario, but always has his eye on the belt.

“Obviously, I could fight the winner. I’m down for that.”

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