UFC 128: Joseph Benavidez ready for his 'weird' debut inside the Octagon against Ian Loveland


Joseph Benavidez (13-2) will make his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut when he trades blows with Ian Loveland (14-7) next Saturday (March 19, 2011) for UFC 128 in Newark, New Jersey.

Back in November 2010 at WEC 52, Benavidez faced submission ace Wagnney Fabiano. "Joe B-Wan Kenobi" was the favorite to win the fight and he proved oddsmakers right with a submission win via guillotine choke in the second round.

Benavidez tells Pro MMA Radio he wanted to showcase his "Joe-jitsu" and beat "The Silencer" at his own game.

"I did see he kind of uses some bad shots but he's also a great jiu-jitsu black belt so usually those guys can kind of do that. He's a world champion black belt; he's a really great grappler. A lot of guys through all those years of grappling know how to defend that. I wanted to guillotine him. I wanted to submit him. I love beating guys at their own game and I made kind of a streak of beating black belts with my "Joe-jitsu," so I thought it would be great to get another one and what better way than to submit one?"

When a fighter makes his UFC debut, he can either rise to the occasion or crack under pressure. Benavidez says while he tries not to think about possible pre-fight jitters, he does acknowledge them.

"I try not to let it get to me but I'd lie if I said it wasn't a dream come true to be in the Octagon. For the most part when I was in the WEC, I was fighting the best guys in the world and I'm in the UFC and I'm still fighting the best guys in the world, it's just on a bigger stage."

Benavidez admits that he wasn't expecting to be offered a fight with Loveland. While the fight is a head scratcher for some, Benavidez has a feeling as to why the bout was booked.

"He was never on my radar. They (UFC) basically called me and told me this is where I'm gonna fight, this is who I'm gonna fight. Before that I only heard his name, I've never really seen him fight. I checked him out. He's a really tough dude. It's kind of funny, I remember thinking ‘I'm gonna get some kind of weird fight like that,' because being practical and thinking from the outside in, I'm in a weird position. I'm the second best bantamweight in the world. I can't fight the number one guy because I fought him twice for the title. I can't go against a top contender because if I beat a top contender, they lose their legitimacy."

In 2009, Benavidez battled current UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and came up short, losing via unanimous decision. One year later, the two met again, this time for a world title. Despite the solid effort, Benavidez lost his bid for a world title by split decision.

"Joe B-Wan Kenobi" says that while beating Cruz would be nice, he'd be happier with a title around his waist.

"I'm just trying to take this fight by fight. I'm a practical guy. I would love to get a win over him, but I get a win over him and it's still two wins to one. It's like I still didn't win the series. I think the most important thing is to get a world title."

The UFC does not have a flyweight division, but the addition of a 125-pound weight class is expected sooner than later. Benavidez says he would strongly consider dropping down in weight to free himself of limbo in the 135-pound division.

"125 is definitely something I'd have to try. The weight cut wouldn't be fun. I'm not a guy that's ever really cut weight. In MMA when I came up, 135 was the lightest one and it was my natural weight. I love eating food and that's why they call me the "Beefcake," no secret."

Another fighter who may drop down in weight is Demetrious Johnson. Despite being undersized in the bantamweight division, "Mighty Mouse" has earned an 8-1 record and recently defeated Japanese sensation Norifumi Yamamoto by unanimous decision.

Benavidez says a bout with Johnson intrigues him because they both have similar styles and love to leave it all on the line.

"I'm gonna be honest I wouldn't quite feel like a man weighing 125 pounds but I think it'd be worth it to go for the title. Demetrious is a guy I just love to watch. I'm a big fan of him. I talk to him whenever I get the chance; he's a good guy. That would be a great fight. I definitely think he would be a contender in that division. He's a contender in the 135-pound division just like me, fighting guys that are bigger and beating them up. I think that would be a great fight. It would definitely be non-stop action wise. We're both really fast and throw some great combos. I feel like I'm a little bigger and that could play to an advantage."

Can Benavidez make his UFC debut a successful one? Tune in to UFC 128 on Saturday March 19 live on pay-per-view to find out.

For more on Benavidez, check out the replay of's exclusive presentation of Pro MMA Radio by clicking here.

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