UFC flyweight Joseph Benavidez positioned himself to be one of the primary players in the division after a successful run at 135 pounds including success against the likes of Eddie Wineland and Miguel Torres. The 28-year old then lived up to his hype with a knockout win in his 125-pound debut, though he ultimately fell to Demetrious Johnson in a bout aimed at crowning the organization’s first flyweight champion and has been flying under the radar ever since while priming himself for another shot at the belt.
One opportunity Benavidez knows he’ll never get back, however, is the honor of going down as the first flyweight king in UFC history. It’s a fact that still pains Benavidez and understandably so after hearing him detail the matter in an interview with the UFC’s website.
“I guess the best way to describe it is a little heartbreak, disappointment, just the realization that it didn’t play out like I had planned it for months and years. I envisioned something totally different and I was in disbelief. I would have been in disbelief if I would have won as well. I would have had to actually look at the belt and hold it and touch it to know it was real. But the fact that I didn’t have it, it was hard just coming to the realization that the opportunity that I had was really a once in a lifetime opportunity. To win the belt might not be, I think I’ll go for it again, but to be the first ever (UFC flyweight champion) was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I had to accept that. It was hard,” explained Benavidez. “My body hurt, my face got messed up, our flights got canceled. We had to wait in the airport, and we were in San Francisco, which is an hour away from Sacramento, and we had to wait until six in the morning over there or take a rent-a-car. So it was hell. The people were being super rude to us at the airlines, and I’m just cruising around super disappointed.”
“I hadn’t seen my two brothers together in like five years. They were over there, a news crew was supposed to meet me if I won the belt, and none of that happened. Everything that I envisioned didn’t happen. Instead I’m in a rent a car, our luggage is still in San Francisco, so I have no luggage, no belt, and I’m thinking to myself, this is not how I envisioned it,” he continued. “Looking at my mantel, I had the Polaroid picture of the belt that I was going to replace with the real one, and in my mind, that had already happened. But here I am, the fight’s over and I’m still sitting on my couch staring at just the picture. There were little things like that that were hard to bounce back from.”
While Benavidez went on to confess the photograph is still displayed in his living room, waiting for its spot to be occupied by actual gold, the Team Alpha Male staple sees a chance to re-claim contendership this weekend when he faces Ian McCall at UFC 156.
“We’re two of the bigger names, and me and Ian are the next best guys. A lot of people did think this was gonna be a title fight, and that first fight (between Johnson and McCall), if it would have gone to a fourth round, this could have been the first title fight,” said the 16-3 Benavidez. “So I’m looking at it just like that. I look at every fight as the biggest fight of my life and even though the last one was for the world title, and the first one ever, this fight is bigger than that fight just because it’s what’s in front of me right now. In MMA, it’s all about what have you done for me lately, and you have to have a short memory.”
Benavidez-McCall can be seen opening up the PPV portion of Saturday night’s event starting at 10:00 PM EST.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC