Highly ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez wants to earn his second opportunity to win the UFC flyweight championship, and is willing to put in the time and effort to get there.
Benavidez (16-3) failed to capture the inaugural 125-pound title last September, dropping a unanimous decision to current titleholder Demetrious Johnson at UFC 152: "Jones vs. Belfort". Since the defeat "Joe-Jitsu" has not stepped back in the Octagon, but will make his return against Ian McCall at UFC 156: "Aldo vs. Edgar," the organization's loaded Super Bowl weekend event scheduled for Feb. 2, 2013.
An opponent like McCall, who was once ranked as the top flyweight in the world, is a risky fight for Benavidez. Coming off his first loss in over two years, the Texas native will look to avoid dropping back-to-back fights for the first time in his career.
In an interview with The MMA Fight Corner at the World MMA Awards in Las Vegas, Benavidez said he wants to kick the Super Bowl weekend off on the right foot and expects the fight with McCall to be a barnburner.
"I'm really prepared; I mean I'm ready to go right now, you know, if it had to happen. And now I still got about three weeks to get even better, so like I said man I feel read to go right now and in three weeks I'll be super dangerous, you know, my weight is good, everything's good, I'm getting comfortable in the flyweight, at the 125-pound weight class, so yeah it's going to be fantastic and Ian's a great opponent, you know, amazing opponent. He's going be exciting, he's actually going to fight me so that's fun, and we're going to put on a show man and start off that pay-per-view right, you know, we're the first fight on it."
Fans and odds makers favored Benavidez going into the UFC 152 title fight against Johnson; however, he was unable to meet expectations and was defeated in what some considered a minor upset.
It is no secret that due to the infancy of the UFC flyweight division, there isn't exactly a line of contenders for Johnson's that goes out the door. In fact, an argument can be made that after John Dodson, who is currently scheduled to challenge Johnson for the flyweight belt at UFC on FOX 6 on Jan. 26, 2013, there is no clear cut No. 1 contender.
That's where the winner of Benavidez vs. McCall comes into play.
With a win over McCall at UFC 156, the Team Alpha-Male product could make a legitimate claim at being the top contender at 125-poud, even if he is just one fight removed from facing the champion.
Benavidez would have no problem with being granted a title shot if he gets by McCall, but if the 28-year-old has to fight another top contender afterwards, he has no problem with that either, as he claims to be in no rush when it comes to getting back to the title.
"You know some people would say, you know, the winner of this can take it (the next title shot), and I definitely think we've both given ‘Mighty Mouse' two great fights, so, you know, it wouldn't be unjustified to give the winner of this the next title shot, but for me, you know I'd like to earn it by beating another guy. There's other guys out there that I think are just as good and as talented and have the same amount of potential that people just don't know about. So maybe fight another top contender at 125 before. I don't mind getting two fights because you know, the way I look at it is I'll just be even better by the time I get that rematch with ‘Might Mouse.'"
Assuming he gets by McCall (which is far from a given), Benavidez's place in the division will be determined by Johnson vs. Dodson.
If Johnson successfully defends his belt, it's unlikely fans would want to see Johnson vs. Benavidez part two so soon after the first match up, which took place just four months ago. Moreover, Benavidez has already lost twice to bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, which was one of his reasons for dropping to flyweight. A second defeat to Johnson would put Benavidez in a position where he would have to play the role of gatekeeper until "Mighty Mouse" drops the belt, or put a huge win-streak together for a third fight.
However, if Dodson wins, it will reset the division and immediately shoot Benavidez into the No.1 contender's slot.
While Benavidez stopped short of giving a prediction for Johnson vs. Dodson, he did admit it's a match up that peaks his interest, and he is especially happy it will take place on FOX where millions can be exposed to the relatively new flyweight division.
"That's going to be an awesome fight, man. Those are two of the fastest guys in all of MMA and, you know, they're going to go at it against each other and ‘Mighty Mouse' has been improving every fight, you know, from Dominick Cruz to two McCall fights to me. He's just becoming a better fighter every time and really finding his groove, you know, especially with the new weight class. It's always exciting to see him go out there, I like the way he fights and, you know, Dodson's just dangerous, you know? So it's going to be an all-out great fight and I think it's great they put it on FOX to highlight the weight class and the flyweights and I have no doubts those two are going to put on a great show."
UFC 156: "Aldo vs. Edgar" goes down Feb. 2, 2013 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event headliner will see Jose Aldo put his featherweight strap on the line against former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Also on the card will be a heavyweight collision of Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva as well as light heavyweight affair between Rashad Evans and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.