While there may be countless opinions on how this coming weekend’s title-bout between flyweight tournament finalists Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez few folks are more qualified to offer insight on the match-up than UFC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz. Not only does Cruz have the expertise his background and training entail, but the 27-year old has also scouted each man based on past pairings against the talented twosome.
Cruz, who beat both men by way of decision, recently gave his thoughts on the UFC 152 co-headliner where he explained both men have an avenue to victory and struggled to pick a clear-cut favorite.
“Benavidez needs to use his wrestling much more than he has in the past because DJ will be ready for the power strikes and he will need to keep DJ guessing. But wrestling isn’t the entire answer to DJ’s speed and movement. Even though I used wrestling against DJ, the guy is not easy to wrestle – the reason I was successful was because with my height and reach I knew he would have to rush in and that opened up takedown opportunities,” explained Cruz in an interview with the UFC. “Benavidez doesn’t have the height advantage over DJ that I did. So he has to mix it up, right from the start. DJ is so talented and so fast and you cannot allow him to dictate the pace and rhythm.”
While Cruz feels Benavidez has the hand-speed to match Johnson he lacks the same attribute in other areas.
“Joseph is as fast a striker as DJ, but he’s not as quick with his footwork or in the scramble. Joseph has a wider stance because he needs that base to get full power into his punches. He hits very hard even at 135 pounds and you’ve seen, at 125 pounds, he’s a huge puncher,” said Cruz, concluding that he envisioned Benavidez finishing Johnson but would take “Mighty Mouse” if the bout drags on into the later rounds.
The 16-2 Benavidez has won his last four fights, while Johnson hasn’t strung together the same number of victories but still looked impressive in his recent outings. He holds an overall record of 15-2-1 including success against Miguel Torres and Ian McCall.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC