Looking back on Joseph Benavidez’s UFC career

Joseph Benavidez, UFC

This last week, one of the best fighters in the history of the UFC‘s flyweight division announced his retirement. That fighter was Joseph Benavidez (28-8). Benavidez announced that he was walking away from the sport following a recent three-fight skid.

When it comes to the good guys of the game, Joseph Benavidez is one of those guys. A guy that always showed up, never made excuses, and did things the right way. That’s why he was such a fan-favorite and why the UFC cherished him.

Benavidez first burst onto the scene in the WEC in the bantamweight division. At the time, the lowest weight class that he could compete at was 135 pounds. Like Demetrious Johnson, Benavidez made it work despite being much smaller than the competition.

He rose to the top of the WEC and challenged Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight title. Ultimately, Benavidez fell short. After moving over the UFC, the promotion announced that they would be adding the flyweight division. This was a natural fit for Benavidez.

Benavidez’s run at flyweight

Benavidez competed in the inaugural flyweight title fight against one of the greatest of all time, Demetrious Johnson. It was a very competitive fight with Johnson just edging Benavidez by split decision to win the UFC flyweight title.

After that loss, Benavidez went on a three-fight win streak to get another shot at Johnson and the flyweight title. This time, Johnson stopped Benavidez in the first round to retain the flyweight title.

After that loss, Benavidez was in a weird spot. To the eyes of many, he was clearly the second best flyweight in the UFC. However, after losing to the champion twice, it was hard for him to get another crack at the belt.

After the second loss to Johnson, Benavidez would go 9-1 in his next ten fights. The lone loss being a split decision to Sergio Pettis who is now the Bellator bantamweight champion. During that stretch, Benavidez defeated former two-division UFC champion Henry Cejudo.

End of the road and his UFC legacy

That stretch brought Benavidez to 2020 and a showdown with Deiveson Figueiredo. Johnson was no longer in the UFC and Benavidez was set to fight Figueiredo for the vacant flyweight title.

Figueiredo stopped Benavidez in the second round of their first fight, but since he didn’t make weight, the UFC called for an immediate rematch. Benavidez was given another shot, but again fell short against Figueiredo.

After that loss, Benavidez suffered a decision loss to Askar Askarov which prompted this retirement and the end to an incredibly underrated career. Make no mistake about it, Joseph Benavidez is one of the best to ever do it in the lighter weight divisions.

Critics will want to point to the fact that he went winless in UFC title fights. However, his resume still speaks for itself. He beat some of the best and really only lost to the best in the world. Hats off to Joseph Benavidez and his incredible career. Truly one of the good guys of the sport.

After dominating Joseph Benavidez at UFC 259, what’s next for Askar Askarov?

This past Saturday at UFC 259, we saw a pivotal flyweight matchup on the prelims. Former title challenger, Joseph Benavidez (28-8), took on rising contender, Askar Askarov (14-0-1). The fight was supposed to be a key test for Askarov.

Saturday night was the fourth fight inside the octagon for Askarov. The native of Dagestan had already been in there with some of the division’s elites. He fought to a draw with Brandon Moreno before defeating Tim Elliot and Alexandre Pantoja.

Benavidez is looked at as one of the best fighters in the history of the UFC to have never captured a title. Despite never becoming champion, Benavidez has fought for the flyweight title four times and was the second ranked contender in the division.

Going into UFC 259, I was expecting a good back-and-forth battle. However, it was anything but. From the opening bell, the fight was all Askar Askarov. From the striking to the grappling, the native of Dagestan dominated Joseph Benavidez.

I was very impressed with Askarov’s ability to control the distance on Saturday. Askarov is long so when he was striking, he did a great job of working his straight punches and jabs. When he wanted to grapple, he closed the distance beautifully. Askarov won all three rounds on all three scorecards at UFC 259.

What’s next for Askarov after UFC 259?

When the updated UFC rankings come out tomorrow, the only men in front of Askarov will be the champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno. As mentioned, Askarov has already fought Moreno to a very close draw back in 2019.

Moreno and Figueiredo will be rematching in June after they fought to a draw in December at UFC 256. In reality, Askarov should be next for the title, but he might have to take a fight in between if he wants to say active.

The matchup I would look at is the upcoming matchup between Alex Perez and Matt Schnell. Both are ranked inside the top seven and Perez is coming off of a title shot. Whoever wins that matchup would be a great next fight for Askarov.

If you’re looking at the rankings, Alexandre Pantoja (23-5) could be an option. However, as mentioned above, Askarov just defeated Pantoja last year. Hard to imagine the UFC would book that again. So the options for Askarov are wait for a title shot or meet the winner of Perez and Schnell if you ask me.

Is it time for Joseph Benavidez to retire after UFC 259?

Joseph Benavidez, UFC

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.

Askar Askarov outclasses Joseph Benavidez at UFC 259

The second fight on the ESPN prelims for UFC 259 was the flyweight contest between Joseph Benavidez (28-7) and Askar Askarov (13-0-1). Askarov missed weight by one pound which forced him to forfeit a portion of his fight purse to Benavidez.

For Benavidez, he was looking to turn things around after a rough 2020. 2020 started with Benavidez getting a shot at the UFC flyweight title. Benavidez was stopped in the second round, but Deiveson Figueiredo missed weight so the title was still up for grabs.

The UFC decided to have the two rematch in July and Benavidez was dominated even more by the now champion. Having lost two in a row, Benavidez needed a win to get back on the right track. He is still the second ranked flyweight contender in the world.

Coming in at number three in the rankings was his opponent, Askar Askarov. As mentioned, Askarov missed weight for UFC 259. This is the fourth time Askarov is making the walk to the octagon. So far, he’s 2-0-1 with wins over Alexandre Pantoja and Tim Elliot.

UFC 259 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 259 flyweight kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Both men started flat footed just trying to gauge the time. Askarov starts the striking with a strong front kick. Benavidez looks for a 1-2 but he was a bit out of range.

Benavidez pushes forward with a big left that misses. Askarov pops Benavidez with a big right cross. Another powerful front kick lands for Askarov. Benavidez was winding up looking for big shots, but he was throwing a little too far away.

Askarov pushes forward and Benavidez lands a beautiful counter right hand. Benavidez then lands a nice 1-2, but Askarov counters with a massive right hand. That right hand looked like it hurt Benavidez.

Both men then exchanged calf kicks. Benavidez closes the distance and lands a couple of shots. Askarov then lands a couple of big counter shots. A couple of jabs from Askarov land and he uses that to chain into a clinch.

Benavidez forced a scramble, but the two ended up back against the fence. Askarov slams Benavidez to the ground just before the round ends. It’s 1-0 Askar Askov at UFC 259 after round 1.

Round 2

The two top UFC flyweights went right back at it to start the second round. Benavidez was using more feints to start the second and he starts his striking with a big low kick. Another big calf kick lands for Benavidez.

A couple of massive shots land for Benavidez against the fence. He starts swinging for the fences, but a massive counter shot lands for Askarov. Benavidez is wobbled, but stays on his feet. A couple of additional big shots land for Askar Askarov.

The two then clinched and Askarov slammed Benavidez to the ground. Benavidez used the fence to work his way back up to his feet, but Askarov put him right back down. Again, Benavidez worked his way back up along the fence.

Askarov was looking for the rear-naked choke while the two were against the fence. However, Benavidez was showing off great submission defense. Every scramble that Benavidez tried didn’t work and Askarov stayed on top of him. Second round comes to a close at it’s 2-0 Askarov at UFC 259.

Round 3

Entering the final round at UFC 259 and Joseph Benavidez needed a finish. Benavidez starts the striking with a low kick. A clean head kick lands for Askarov, but he didn’t throw a ton of power behind it.

Another calf kick lands for Benavidez. Benavidez was looking for an entry, but couldn’t find one. Askarov lands a clean left straight and he started showing off a bit. A nice jab lands for Askar Askarov.

Benavidez throws a big power shot, but it doesn’t land. Askarov makes him eat a 1-2 for his troubles. Halfway through the round and Benavidez needs to get something going. Another headkick lands for Askarov.

Benavidez was looking very frustrated in the cage, but he lands another calf kick. He steps forward and lands a big right hand. Askarov pops him with a jab as they get back to distance. One minute left in the fight and Benavidez was struggling with the distance.

Benavidez was pushing forward trying to find a finishing shot. The two come together and Benavidez lands a big right hand, but it didn’t phase Askarov. Nothing significant lands in the final thirty seconds. The final round could go either way, but this is a clear win for Askar Askarov at UFC 259.

Askar Askarov def. Joseph Benavidez by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

UFC 259 Preview: Joseph Benavidez – Askar Askarov

Joseph Benavidez, UFC

On Saturday night, we will see arguably the most stacked PPV card in history. Words cannot express how deep and talented the card is for UFC 259. If you need any proof, just take a look at the prelims.

One of the prelims that I’m the most excited about is this contest in the UFC‘s flyweight division. The second ranked contender in the division and former title challenger, Joseph Benavidez (28-7) will be taking on the native of Dagestan, Askar Askarov (12-0-1).

Askarov is ranked third so this is a matchup of two of the UFC‘s top three at flyweight. It’s not even the featured prelim which tells you a lot about this stacked card. For Benavidez, he will be looking to bounce back after a rough 2020.

When 2020 started, it looked like Benavidez finally had his best chance to capture UFC gold. With Henry Cejudo vacating the flyweight title, Benavidez was booked to take on Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) in February.

Benavidez fell short in that one, but since Figueiredo missed weight, the UFC ran the fight back. Unfortunately, Benavidez was dominated in the rematch. Now, he’s looking to reset. Benavidez is one of the greatest fighters in history to have never captured a world title.

He’s one of the best, but he’s going to have his hands full on Saturday. Askar Askarov is one of the more exciting prospects at flyweight. You already know how talented the pool of fighters from Dagestan is. Askarov is no different.

Askarov will be making the walk to the octagon for the fourth time. In his debut, he fought to a draw with top contender, Brandon Moreno. After that draw he’s defeated Tim Elliot and Alexandre Pantoja to earn this shot at UFC 259 against Benavidez.

UFC 259 Prediction

When it comes to this flyweight matchup at UFC 259, I’m very curious to see how Benavidez looks. When you look at the skillsets of both men, Benavidez is going to have the speed advantage on the feet.

For Benavidez to be successful, he’s going to have to jump in and out and have his footwork on point. He needs to use his speed to try and fluster Askarov. For Askarov, he cannot get impatient in this fight.

He needs to be deliberate and he needs to be focused. Askarov is really good at counter striking and he’s going to have the power advantage. If he plots forward due to frustration, I see Benavidez getting the better of the striking while catching Askarov coming in.

However, if Benavidez has to come in all night and Askarov remains patient, I could see him landing a big shot that ends the fight. The grappling should be fun to watch and I’d give the slight advantage to Askarov.

A lot of money is coming in on the undefeated Russian and I understand it. However, it’s still worth noting that Benavidez has only lost to some of the best in the world. I think his speed is going to be enough and I think he just barely edges out a decision on Saturday night.

Prediction: Joseph Benavidez by Split Decision

What’s next for Alexandre Pantoja after big win at UFC Vegas 18?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 18, we saw a big matchup in the flyweight division. The fifth ranked flyweight in the world, Alexandre Pantoja (23-5), welcomed former RIZIN champion, Manel Kape (15-5), to the UFC.

There was a ton of hype surrounding Kape and many were looking at him as a potential challenger for the title. However, the UFC gave him no layup in his first fight with him taking on the dangerous Pantoja.

Pantoja has been in there with some of the best in the UFC including the flyweight champion, Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1). The fight was promised to deliver and I have to say that it was a little underwhelming.

I was expecting more of a barnburner, but Kape’s cautious approach stalled the action at times. Pantoja didn’t land amazing shots at UFC Vegas 18, however, he was the much more active fighter on Saturday night.

For that reason, the judges unanimously gave the decision win to Alexandre Pantoja. While it wasn’t the sexiest win in the world, it was still a win at the end of the day and a big win at that.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 18?

After the fight was over, Pantoja stated that he wanted a rematch with the UFC’s flyweight champion. However, the odds of Pantoja fighting for the title in his next fight are slim to none.

Figueiredo will have his rematch against Brandon Moreno (18-5-2) next. After that fight, it’s been said that the winner will take on former UFC bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt (12-3). With that in mind, the title is booked for most of 2021.

Of course, that means Pantoja will need to take another fight. There are a couple of options for Pantoja out there. One option could be a matchup with Alex Perez (24-6). Perez is coming off of a title loss at UFC 255.

Another option could be the winner of the Joseph Benavidez – Askar Askarov matchup that takes place next month. However, I’m not sure that fight would get made should Askarov win considering Askerov just beat Pantoja in July.

UFC: State of the men’s flyweight division entering 2021

2020 was a transition year for the UFC‘s flyweight division. When the year got started, Henry Cejudo (16-2) had just vacated the flyweight title. The promotion setup a fight in February to crown a new champion after Cejudo moved to bantamweight.

That fight put Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1) against Joseph Benavidez (28-7). Benavidez was always looked at as one of the best fighters in the UFC, but he just could never quite climb the mountain to become a champion.

Many believed that February would be his best chance. However, Figueiredo proved to be too much for Benavidez. Benavidez was completely dominated and stopped in the second round by Figueiredo.

However, Figueiredo missed weight so he didn’t capture the title. The UFC decided to have the two men run things back on Fight Island. This time, Figueiredo made weight and he ended up finishing Benavidez quicker than he did the first time.

Figueiredo has become a star in the UFC‘s flyweight division. After he choked out Benavidez, he defended his title against Alex Perez (24-6) at UFC 255. Figueiredo forced Perez to tap within the first two minutes of the fight.

With taking such little damage, the UFC turned Figueiredo right around to fight Brandon Moreno (18-5-2) at UFC 256. The two men had a war and the fight was ultimately ruled a majority draw.

UFC flyweight in 2021

Dana White said shortly after UFC 256 that the promotion would have Figueiredo and Moreno run things back. The fight was a fight of the year candidate and with no winner declared, he said it make sense to do the rematch.

With that, the odd man out becomes Cody Garbrandt (12-3). The former UFC bantamweight champion decided to drop to flyweight to pursue another title. He was originally supposed to get the title shot at UFC 255.

However, he had to pull out of the fight. He was hoping to face the Figueiredo – Moreno winner in March, however, that’s not likely now. Garbrandt and his team have discussed taking an interim fight at bantamweight while he waits, but that’s not settled.

A very compelling matchup to watch at flyweight is Manel Kape (15-4) and Alexandre Pantoja (22-5). Kape is the former RIZIN champion at 135 pounds and he will be making his UFC debut against Pantoja on February 6th.

Whoever wins that fight will be in excellent position in the flyweight division. Another matchup to watch is Benavidez taking on Askar Askarov (12-0-1). Askarov trains under Khabib Nurmagomedov and he looks like he can be a future champion.

At one point, the UFC’s flyweight division looked like it was going to be closed for business. However, business is booming at the moment with a number of intriguing matchups. Should be a fun year for the promotion at 125 pounds.

2020 UFC Fighter of the Year

The UFC has officially completed all of their business in this crazy 2020. Despite a global pandemic, the promotion had an incredible year that saw tremendous growth and new fans coming to the sport of MMA.

The UFC hosted many successful events and saw a number of fighters burst onto the scene in 2020. One of those fighters being the rising superstar, Khamzat Chimaev (9-0). Chimaev made his debut with the UFC back in July.

He rose to fame with his incredible dominance through his first three fights. In his first three fights with the UFC, Chimaev has scored finishes in all three while absorbing just a few strikes total.

He’s been catapulted into a main event on January 20th in a fight that could be a title eliminator. While Chimaev’s UFC rise has been remarkable, he’s not quite the fighter of the year in my opinion.

Another fighter who broke through this year was Kevin Holland (21-5). After losing his last fight in 2019, Holland completely transformed himself in 2020. Holland had arguably the best year out of anybody with the promotion.

He went an astonishing 5-0 with four finishes in 2020. Even more remarkable was the fact that he didn’t fight for the first time until May. However, despite his incredible year, Holland was not ESM’s UFC Fighter of the Year.

2020 UFC Fighter of the Year

Looking at everything for 2020, the UFC‘s Fighter of the Year was a clear choice for me. That clear choice is the flyweight champion of the world, Deiveson Figueiredo (20-1-1). Figueiredo started out 2020 as the top contender at flyweight.

Back in February, he took on Joseph Benavidez for the vacant UFC flyweight title. However, Figueiredo missed weight for the fight which caused him to lose his opportunity to capture the belt. Yet, the fight still went on.

Figueiredo was completely dominant and he won the fight by second round knockout. In July, Figueiredo had a rematch for Benavidez for the UFC title. This time Figueiredo made weight and he stopped Benavidez in the first round to capture the title.

Looking to close out the year strong, Figueiredo was booked to defend his title against Alex Perez at UFC 255. Figueiredo submitted Perez in less than two minutes to successfully defend his title.

Because of his quick work, the UFC turned him around quickly to headline UFC 256 against Brandon Moreno. The two had an absolute war that was a fight of the year candidate. In the end, the two men fought to a draw.

Granted, Figueiredo would have won had he not been docked a point at UFC 256. It was later revealed that Figueiredo had spent time in the hospital the night before his title fight against Moreno.

Yes, his record was not technically perfect, but Deiveson Figueiredo is the clear Fighter of the Year. Four sensational performances in essentially four title fights. Figueiredo emerged as the superstar flyweight needed in 2020 for the UFC.

UFC books Joseph Benavidez – Askar Askarov

Joseph Benavidez, UFC

The UFC is finalizing a fantastic flyweight matchup for their March 6th card. MMA Junkie was first to report that the promotion is finalizing a matchup between former title challenger Joseph Benavidez (28-7), and Askar Askarov (12-0-1).

The fight is expected to take place on the main card of the UFC 259 PPV. Both men will enter the cage ranked inside the top 3 of the UFC‘s flyweight rankings. From a matchmaking perspective, it doesn’t get much better than this.

For Benavidez, he’s going to be looking to bounce back after back-to-back losses to the champion, Deiveson Figueiredo. The two first fought back in February where Benavidez was finished in the second round.

However, Figueiredo didn’t make weight so the UFC decided to run the fight back for the flyweight title. The second fight was even more dominating for Figueiredo who put Benavidez to sleep in the first round.

Despite being dominated twice by the champion, it should be known that Benavidez is still one of the very best in the world. He’s only lost to four men in his professional career: Figueiredo, Demetrious Johnson, Dominick Cruz, and Sergio Pettis.

The knock on Benavidez is that he’s always failed to win the big one. While consistently being one of the UFC‘s best, he’s 0-5 in title opportunities. With this fight on March 6th, he will look to climb the latter once again.

UFC 259’s Flyweight Clash

Standing in the way of Benavidez will be Askar Askarov. The Russian flyweight trains under Fighting Eagle in Dagestan which of course is the gym of UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Askarov is looked at as the potential next UFC champion to hail from Dagestan. So far, he’s made three appearances inside the octagon. He fought to a split draw against number one contender, Brandon Moreno. After that he defeated Tim Elliot and Alexandre Pantoja.

Askarov is the real deal and he’s very talented. This is not going to be an easy fight for either man. Either Benavidez will show everyone that he still has enough in the tank for one more UFC title run or Dagestan will flex it’s muscles once again.

BREAKING: Deiveson Figueiredo gets new opponent at UFC 255

UFC 255 was dealt a bit of a blow today. First reported by Combate and now confirmed by ESPN, Cody Garbrandt (12-3) is out of his title fight against flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1). Figueiredo will now defend against a new opponent.

The UFC‘s flyweight champion will now be taking on Alex Perez (24-5) per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. Perez was already scheduled to be on the card taking on Brandon Moreno (17-5-1). However, Perez will now jump into the main event of the evening.

This is a tough blow for the former UFC bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt. Garbrandt had gone through a rough time over the past couple of years, but made a big return at UFC 250 where he knocked out Raphael Assuncao.

After that knockout victory, Garbrandt announced he wanted to move down to flyweight to try to capture a second UFC title. Garbrandt wasn’t the biggest guy at bantamweight, and he felt he could easily make 125. His title opportunity is going to have to wait now.

UFC 255’s New Main Event

What a golden opportunity this has turned into for Alex Perez. Perez is currently ranked fourth in the UFC‘s flyweight rankings. He will come into this title fight at 11-1 in his last 12 fights. The only loss coming to Joseph Benavidez back in 2018.

Perez has earned this title shot however, he’s going to have his hands full with the UFC‘s flyweight champion. Figueiredo will be making his first title defense after dominating Joseph Benavidez for the second time back in July.

Figueiredo was able to capture the undisputed UFC flyweight crown by choking Benavidez out cold in the first round. It was the second time this year that Figueiredo had stopped Benavidez cementing himself as the best flyweight in the UFC.

While it’s not the main event everyone wanted, it will still be a very solid flyweight title fight for the promotion. A huge opportunity for Perez and another tough blow for Cody Garbrandt.