Recognizing Greatness: Breaking Down The MMA Game Of Joseph Benavidez

FanPost edited and promoted by Photo of Joseph Benavidez by Mark Kolbe via Getty Images.

Former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) standout Joseph Benavidez is set to take on Demetrious Johnson this Saturday night (Sept. 22, 2012) as part of the UFC 152: "Jones vs. Belfort" pay-per-view (PPV) fight card, which goes down at the Air Canada Center in Toronto.

The winner will be crowned the first-ever UFC Flyweight Champion.

With that in mind, I'll be taking a closer look at Benavidez and breaking down his mixed martial arts (MMA) skill set as he heads to "Hogtown" to try to stake his claim to the 125-pound throne by trapping "Mighty Mouse."

That -- and a whole lot more -- after the jump.


Coming out of the famed Team Alpha Male gym in Sacramento, California, you'd expect Benavidez to be the classic wrestle boxer with a few guillotines thrown in. While at first it may appear that way, Benavidez has the most effective striking game of the team.

Using his quick reflexives and speed, Joe understands fighting at range better than the rest of his team. He generally opens up with low and high kicks. While these kicks generally don't finish the fight, they hurt his opponent enough to distract them from his boxing and wrestling.

From the kicking range, he will often explode into a multiple punch combination, filled with vicious hooks and overhands. His fights with Yasuhiro Urushitani and Eddie Wineland are the best examples of this, as he frustrated the experienced strikers at range before blasting them with punches or flying knees.

The only minor weakness he's shown is that due to his aggressive offense and relatively low hand position, he can be countered. However, against all but Dominick Cruz, these counters were quickly overwhelmed by a flurry of punches.





Despite his striking prowess, Benavidez's bread and butter is still to take you down and crush you from top position with submissions or ground and pound. Joe's grappling will be split into two sections, wrestling and jiu-jitsu.


Joe's wrestling game is one of the more unique styles in MMA. A state champion in high school, Joe has the ability to grind you into the fence before slamming you to the ground, or he can hurl you through the air from the clinch with his immense physical strength.

More than anything, Joe is exceptionally good at mixing his striking and wrestling so that his opponent is off balance when he attempts to take them down. One of the best examples of this is his fight vs former WEC Bantamweight Champ Miguel Torres.

After about two minutes of striking, Benavidez fakes a hook before shooting for a takedown.


A great example of his physical strength and clinch takedowns would be his thrashing of Junya Kodo in Dream.




Joe is incredibly proficient at two things: Stifling his opponents jiu-jitsu and the guillotine choke. Neither part should really come as a surprise. All the elite fighters at Team Alpha Male, including Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes, are notoriously difficult to submit.

Benavidez fearlessly dove into Miguel Torres' guard multiple times without being threatened and threw Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) ace Wagnney Fabiano off him like he was a child. And after that, he choked both of them out. Benavidez does the same variation of the guillotine that all of Team Alpha Male does: Grab the neck from any position and squeeze as hard as you can.

Here is some of his handiwork:





Aggression is what separates Joe from 99 percent of other fighters. Joe attacks from every possible opening and isn't afraid to jump onto a guillotine or leap through the air for a flying knee (which he has tried on fighters like Jeff Curran and Eddie Wineland) and is especially dangerous when transitioning from the clinch or the ground.

Being able to attack during transitions is truly what makes great fighters, as Fedor showed with his ground and pound, or Anderson showed when he hit a switch on Nate Marquardt. A great example of this is after his second guillotine attempt on Fabiano,who tries to come up with a single leg. Joe spins out, and turns around to blast Fabiano with an uppercut before he has time to defend himself. This strike set up the guillotine finish.

You can see this and Joe throwing Wagney off of him on the UFC's site, right here

Joe's fight against Miguel Torres: He follows up the takedown broken down earlier with multiple slicing elbows that cut Miguel badly, leading to the guillotine finish.


Perhaps my favorite example of Joe's constant attack during transitions is after a failed drop seonagi on Yasuhiro Urushitani. After forcing Yasuhiro against the clinch, Joe tries a high risk throw but fails to maintain top position. Instead of stopping and letting Urushitani escape unharmed, Joe throws a knee straight to the face as his opponent stands up.


End Note

I hope I did Joe's skill set justice with this piece. Joe's style of fighting has always inspired me and is a large percentage of the reason why my eventual goal is to train at Team Alpha Male. I hope you enjoyed this article, and will enjoy Joe choking the life out of Mighty Mouse on Saturday.

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