His fourth time fighting for UFC flyweight gold, Joesph Benavidez believes this one is personal. He is hoping to get a measure of revenge on Deiveson Figueiredo while also finally fulfilling his dream at UFC Fight Island 2 on July 18.
Both fighters will be competing in a rematch for the vacant UFC Flyweight Title. Back in February, Benavidez (28-6) and Figueiredo (18-1) were chosen as the flyweight contenders. Henry Cejudo relinquished the title to focus on his UFC Bantamweight Title. Figueiredo entered the fight 2.5 pounds over the flyweight limit, something that has irked the 35-year-old Benavidez.
“I don’t like him,” Benavidez stated to MMA Fighting. “That is rare for me. It’s not personal cause I don’t really know him, know him personally and everything. I definitely don’t like him.
“It definitely makes you want to go out there and hurt someone worse because when you fight, you win … you hurt him by proxy winning an MMA fight. You kind of have to. It’s one of those things where I want to put this guy away. I want to shut him up. I just don’t like him and that rarely happens in my career.”
During the fight, Benavidez would be the aggressor as he was angry at Figueiredo. Following a clash of the heads in the second round, Figueiredo landed a right hand that knocked Benavidez down. A few shots later and Figueiredo would win the fight via TKO but would not win the title.
Benavidez fought for the WEC Bantamweight Title before, losing to Dominick Cruz via split decision in 2010. He had the opportunity to fight for the inaugural UFC Flyweight Title in 2012 but would lose to Demetrious Johnson. Earning a rematch, Benavidez lost via KO in 2013. Before his loss to Figueiredo, Benavidez was on a three-fight win streak. Benavidez doesn’t know when he will get this opportunity again, so he will look to make the most of it.
“I fought 10 fights to get here for my second one,” Benavidez stated to MMA Junkie. “I had an ACL surgery, ran through 10 guys in the process, in a process of however many years, so I don’t know if that’s in the cards again. So, yeah, I look at it as probably the last title attempt I’m gonna have but not the last title fight.”
With the last line meaning he is looking to win and defend the title, Benavidez’s passion for the flyweight division has been commended. He realizes the division is in an interesting spot and he wants to be the standard-bearer of it.
“I just want to fight the best guy in my division,” Benavidez went on to say. “I don’t want to fight another weight class or another gender or anything like that. I just know I would literally want to fight the best in my division. I have so much pride for the flyweights. I fought for the first title in this division. I was actually the first to win in this division, first knockout. I think I’m pretty synonymous with flyweights.”
Figueiredo, who made weight this time around, almost had to back out of the fight. Following a positive COVID-19 test, Figueiredo would test negative after taking another test with just a few days to spare. Now, he has a chance to finally win a title, while also proving his win back in February was not a fluke.
On Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, Benavidez will put it all on the line once again. Will he finally be the one to get his hand raised?