Joseph Benavidez has been on a mission for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) gold ever since he lost a close split decision to Demetrious Johnson in a title fight back at UFC 152. He rebounded by defeating two of the finest 125-pound fighters in mixed martial arts (MMA), Ian McCall and Darren Uyenoyama.
Last night (Sept. 4, 2013) at UFC Fight Night 28 on FOX Sports 1 from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Benavidez looked to keep his streak alive against touted submissions specialist and four-time Brazilian Jiu-jitsu world champion, Jussier Da Silva.
Benavidez has been evolving his game to a new level as of late, thanks to the expert teachings of new Team Alpha Male head coach Duane Ludwig, and tonight was yet another example. Benavidez traveled into hostile territory to secure the technical knockout finish, and could be in line for a title shot with his winning effort.
Let's take a look at the brilliance of his latest victory from Mineirinho Arena.
Both fighters came out crisp, looking to find their range. Benavidez held an early advantage in aggression, throwing some big shots. Da Silva countered with a couple of good left hooks, but his attacker continued to stalk, and punches started to land.
He hit "Formiga" with a quick left, then a right, and sent the Brazilian splattering to the canvas with a huge knee to the body. Da Silva immediately turtled on the ground, defenseless to the ground strikes of his dangerous foe.
It's starting to look like Benavidez may be the only flyweight on par with Johnson, and they are in a class by themselves. John Dodson could be brought up in that conversation, but for the time being, it appears that Benavidez is the next rightful challenger to the throne.
Benavidez, like his teammates Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes, is looking like a different monster ever since the arrival of Ludwig. Their improved striking, coupled with their already formidable wrestling and grappling prowess, is becoming absolutely terrifying for the lower weight divisions. His win last night, coupled with Mendes' incredible finish of Clay Guida at last Saturday's (Aug. 31,2013) UFC 164 event, puts Team Alpha Male at an amazing 13-0 with their new philosophy and training.
It's hard to imagine not seeing at least one of them have a belt in the near future, and Benavidez may have the best shot, as Mendes already lost convincingly to Jose Aldo, who is presently on the mend from a broken foot. Johnson recently finished John Moraga at UFC on FX 8 in late July, so both he and Benavidez could be in shape for a late-year rematch. It's probably the best fight the promotion can make in the division right now.
Formiga, despite possessing a deadly submission game, will have to go back to the drawing board. He's never finished an opponent with strikes, and when you're facing competition like Benavidez, that's not going to fly. The Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt simply won't be able to take down and submit power wrestlers like Benavidez. He'll fall down from his No. 5 ranking, but should get anther test against someone in the bottom half of the top-10, or just slightly outside it.
Joseph Benavidez showed that he's primed and ready for another title shot when he put Jussier Formiga away in Brazil? Will he be the man to dethrone Demetrious Johnson?