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Joseph Benavidez equates Demetrious Johnson’s greatness to chess, says UFC champ has best formula in the game

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Johnson vs Reis Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

When UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson steps inside of the Octagon tomorrow night (Sat., Oct. 7, 2017) at UFC 216 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, he will attempt to overthrow challenger Ray Borg and become the first fighter in UFC history to record 11-consecutive title defenses, breaking Anderson Silva’s current record of 10.

Johnson has been near-perfect during his reign atop the UFC’s 125-pound division and has knocked off some serious contenders on his way to MMA immortality. While many fighters have stepped up and tried to dethrone “Mighty Mouse” by using boxing, wrestling, grappling, and downright athleticism, all have come up short.

This includes former flyweight title challenger Joseph Benavidez, who is constantly haunted by his failed attempts to hand Johnson his first flyweight loss.

“I was that close to finishing someone many consider the best ever [in the first fight],” Benavidez said during a recent interview with ESPN. “It’s something that goes through my head all the time. Every little thing that I could have done different. I will randomly be driving and get upset. My wife will say ‘what’s the matter?’ and I will say ‘nothing.’ But sometimes I think about little things like that and if it could have gone another way. When I fought [Demetrious Johnson] the first time, you couldn’t predict the epic run that he would go on. But when you see him going through other opponents you think, ‘Wow, he tears these guys apart and makes them look normal.’ [His speed] is something you can’t adjust to. I tried to go with the fastest people I could leading up to the fights with him and you still can’t get as fast as him until you get there.”

Benavidez, who has only lost to Johnson and former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz in his entire career, last fought “Mighty Mouse” in a rematch at UFC on FOX 9 back in 2013. Johnson unexpectedly finished Benavidez via one-punch knockout and essentially put the nail in the coffin on their budding rivalry.

“The second fight he finished me so it wasn’t nearly as close as the first,” Benavidez explained. “That goes to show that he made adjustments. He knocked me out — saw a mistake within two minutes — a person who has never been finished in 30 fights previously, so he’s done what no one else has done. It’s like playing chess. We all have the same pieces, but he goes out there and executes them better than we do at the right time. I think he has great coaching — I have to give them credit. His preparation for every fight really sets him apart. Everyone has a formula to get beat. He goes out and pretty much runs that formula on every single person he fights.”

If the fight game is in fact a chess match, Johnson would be the Bobby Fischer of MMA. The flyweight king has quickly become one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters of all time and has destroyed each and every one of his divisional opponents by relying on physical and mental greatness, and beating them at their own game.

Johnson’s track record and in-cage ability are legendary at this point and it’s going to take everything that Borg has to pull off the massive upset at UFC 216. But if Borg is able to force “Mighty Mouse” into a rare mistake then maybe he can put the UFC champ in checkmate. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 216 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FX at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

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