On the prelims this past Saturday at UFC 259, we saw a big matchup in the flyweight division. Top three contenders went head-to-head as Joseph Benavidez (28-8) took on the unbeaten Askar Askarov (14-0-1).
For Benavidez, he was looking to turn things around after a very rough 2020. Benavidez had two shots at the UFC flyweight title in 2020, but he was destroyed by Deiveson Figueiredo in both fights. This fight was supposed to be a bounce back opportunity.
On the flip side, Askar Askarov was looking to show that he’s worth all the hype. The Russian is being looked at as a potential future UFC champion, and he’s been sensational since making his octagon debut a couple of years ago.
I was expecting this fight to be extremely close, however, it was anything but. It was clear from the opening bell at UFC 259 that Askarov was the better fighter in there. From the striking exchanges to the grappling exchanges, Askarov was in full control.
I thought Benavidez would have a big speed advantage in this one, but the speed wasn’t there. Benavidez was swinging wild and didn’t seem to have that same explosion. Ultimately he lost all three rounds on all three scorecards at UFC 259.
Benavidez’s UFC future
After UFC 259, Dana White was asked if he needs to have a conversation with Benavidez about hanging it up. White quickly said that there was no need for that conversation yet, but many in the industry have wondered about Benavidez’s future.
At the end of the day, Joseph Benavidez will go down in history as one of the greatest fighters of all time to never win a title. He’s had several opportunities, but he’s always come up shot. Benavidez is 0-4 in the UFC alone in title fights.
He does look like he’s lost a step or at least he looked that way on Saturday night. However, I think it’s important to take a step back and look at his competition. While Benavidez has lost three fights in a row, it’s important to remember who his losses are to.
In his entire career, here are the losses for Benavidez: Dominick Cruz (Twice), Demetrious Johnson (Twice), Sergio Pettis, Deiveson Figueiredo (Twice), and Askar Askarov. All of those fighters have either been world champions or they’re at the top of the sport.
I don’t believe it’s time for Benavidez to retire from the UFC just yet. I think the promotion should give him someone lower in the rankings next to see if he can get back on the winning track. Maybe someone like a Tim Elliot. If he can’t win that kind of fight, it might be time for Joey B to hang it up for good.