Joseph Benavidez is unfortunately in a unique situation.
Despite currently being ranked the number two bantamweight in the world, his two career losses are to the current UFC 135 pound champion Dominick Cruz, both in tough decisions.
The Team Alpha Male fighter has also had some trouble earning the respect he deserves lately. Counting Sunday night's fight against former WEC champion Eddie WIneland at UFC on Versus 5, this will be the second straight time he's been showcased on the undercard since making his making his promotional debut after the WEC merger.
He discussed his fight with Wineland in part one of our interview yesterday.
As of right now, Benavidez is just looking to have exciting fights and keep building his fanbase. He spoke with MMAmania.com about Dominick Cruz, the flyweight division and his current goals at 135 pounds.
He explains his struggles with the lack of exposure after the jump.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're ranked probably the number two or number three bantamweight in the world depending on a couple rankings and Eddie's a top 10 guy. This is a really relevant fight. Are you surprised that this match-up is on the undercard of the UFC on Versus 5 show?
Joseph Benavidez: Yeah, I'm definitely a little surprised. I can see if this was a big pay-per-view and there were some really big names but this is a free card and both of us always put on exciting fights. Eddie always goes out there and pushes a good pace and has some good stand-up and always puts on an exciting fight. I obviously have never been in a boring fight and not only that, I'm ranked number two in the world and they say they're trying to build the division. We're two of the best fighters in the division and we can't get on TV?
Like I said earlier, I'm gonna go out there and fight the same and get paid the same. It's kind of crappy for my fans and family and people that have supported me so much and sacrificed so much for me and they don't get to be there and they don't get to watch me either. They used to be able to support me and watch me every fight when I was in the WEC. Now it's a little different for them and that doesn't rub me great. It's kinda hard. We're trying to build a legacy and it's kinda hard when you're not on TV. It gives me something else to work for. Obviously, I think I should be on TV and a lot of my fans do, but there's some people that don't. This is a chance to prove that I do.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You talked about building a legacy for yourself and your team, but there's a guy that's stood in the way of that in Dominick Cruz. You had two very close fights with him and Urijah just had an extremely close fight with him but he's come out on top. What is your camp's view on him and do you feel that you're slowly catching on to his game?
Joseph Benavidez: I think that's true to a degree. In the second fight I was catching on and in a matter of a year I proved that much against him. I still think he's a great fighter and he's a great champion. He's got a unique style and you've got to give credit to him. No one in the world fights like that and there's no way to really prepare for it until you get in there. He's just one of those guys that's hard to beat. He's a great fighter and I don't think he gets nearly enough credit in the pound-for-pound rankings. I think he probably will be. He's knocking off some top guys. It's only a matter of time. I feel if I get a third shot it would be different but him and Faber also had a great fight. I can't really think of that. I've got another great fight ahead of me and that's what I'm looking forward to.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What are your goals at 135 right now? I know you mentioned you wanted to work your way to a title shot. Are you just kind of playing spoiler in the meantime?
Joseph Benavidez: Yeah. I'm kind of in a unique situation at 135 in that I already fought the champion twice and Urijah's up there and I won't fight him. So that means there's two guys up there at the top of the division that I can't fight. Well, one that I can't fight and one that I won't fight. It's kinda hard to be where I am right now. I've got to take it one fight at a time and find little inspirations and motivation. This guy [Wineland] called me out so I've got to get him and this will be a huge statement in the division. Eddie's a tough guy, and if I go over there and finish him, it's little battles like that. For now, I've just got to try and have exciting fights every time and be a guy that the fans always want to see. I've got short term goals of building up the fan base. I've got a whole new base in the UFC that I still need to gain respect from and it's the perfect time to do that.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know you get asked all the time about flyweight. Something a lot of people don't realize is that you've spent years packing on muscle and putting on weight so you can be a solid-sized bantamweight. How difficult would it be for you to drop down to flyweight right now at this point in your career?
Joseph Benavidez: Yeah, flyweight is something I think I would have to try. I kind of owe it to myself. Like I said, with the position I'm in, it might have to wait. When I moved to Sacramento about four years ago, I weighed 136 pounds and I made a solid effort especially after that first Cruz fight to pack on weight. It would be a little hard and it would be bittersweet when they [The UFC] do announce the division. Everyone thinks I'd just be full of excitement and ready to do it. At one point I'd be like, "wow, I've got a whole 'nother shot. A whole 'nother platform to go win the belt on." But at the same time, then it's gonna be like, "oh shit, I've got to get down to 125." Yeah it's definitely gonna be hard but I also feel that I'd be doing what everyone else does which is dieting. I don't diet at all. I'm honestly eating good food, eating ice cream, hamburgers, steaks. I really don't diet at all and I'm walking around at 142 so yeah, it would definitely be something I would have to try if that happened.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Ok, well you mentioned it would probably take some time to cut to 125. Now when that flyweight division is created, you most certainly would be the number one contender. Has the UFC approached you about a timetable for that stuff or are you still in the dark right now?
Joseph Benavidez: Nope. No one's approached me about it. I just see people writing articles and putting me as the face, things like that. Personally, the UFC hasn't approached me and asked me what I think about it. When they do, I'll start thinking more seriously about it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Last question I have. What can the fans expect from your fight with Wineland on Sunday night? Two incredibly exciting fighters.
Joseph Benavidez: Yeah, I think you hit it right on the head. We're two really exciting fighters so you can expect an exciting fight. I'm definitely looking to get the finish and, like I said earlier, it would make a big statement if I can go out there and dominate a really tough fighter like Eddie Wineland. That's what I do anyways so you're gonna see two guys in there relentlessly working for the finish. It's gonna be me and if goes the full 15 minutes, you'll see two guys who went at it trying to finish each other the whole way. I'm expecting a great fight.
Joseph would like to thank his whole team at Team Alpha Male, his sponsors Form Athletics and Amp Energy and his managers at MMA Inc. He's also like to thank his family, friends and supporters.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will Benavidez ever make a big impact in the bantamweight division again? Or is he just going to have to bide his time until the UFC's flyweight division debuts?