After UFC officials announced that Joseph Benavidez would serve as a back-up to the Henry Cejudo vs. TJ Dillashaw UFC flyweight title fight at UFC on ESPN+ 1 on Jan. 19, it appears he will have an actual bout scheduled for the fight card in case he is not called into main event action.
Benavidez had initially been slated to fight Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 233 in Anaheim, Calif., but when the Jan. 26 event was scrapped because of a lack of a suitable main event, so was Benavidez’s bout with Figueiredo. When that bout was scrapped, Benavidez was announced as the official back-up plan if Cejudo or Dillashaw was unable to make it to the Octagon on Jan. 19.
“A flyweight bout between Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo has also been put on hold. Benavidez will be brought in as a backup for the January 19 bout between Henry Cejudo and TJ Dillashaw,” said UFC officials.
Now, just a few days later, UFC officials announced via Newsday that Benavidez was booked to fight Dustin Ortiz on the UFC on ESPN+ 1 fight card in Brooklyn, giving him a back-up plan if his services are not necessary for the main event.
Benavidez (26-5) has been very vocal about trying to keep the UFC flyweight division alive, while company president Dana White has openly questioned whether or not the division will remain part of the UFC’s future plans.
Having long been entrenched at the top of the 125-pound weight class, Benavidez will again try to make a passioned plea to keep the division moving forward when he rematches Ortiz. The two first fought in 2014 with Benavidez winning a unanimous decision. He then went on to win five of his next six bouts, losing only to Sergio Pettis.
Ortiz (19-7) has had a more tumultuous time in the Octagon, having gone 5-3 since losing to Benavidez. He is, however, currently riding a three-fight winning streak, as he hopes to exact a measure of revenge on Jan. 19 in Brooklyn.