Joseph Benavidez was never going to pull out of this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 169 flyweight title fight after Deiveson Figueiredo missed weight by 2.5 pounds, but the veteran contender did want to play his cards right.
Benavidez did what any professional fighter with a 15-3 UFC record would do and remained patient in the aftermath of Figueiredo’s miss. The chips eventually fell and Figueiredo was forced to forfeit 30 percent of his purse to Benavidez as well as having his title rights revoked should he win Saturday night.
“I guess I kind of heard rumblings,” Benavidez told MMA Junkie after the weigh ins. “I love my corner and my wife, who I include in my corner, obviously, and everyone so much – even people down at the UFC – how professional they are. I think there was some serious stuff going on, but no one ever came up and said anything. They know how I am and it doesn’t matter.
“… (My wife) was answering the calls and she was talking in a way like she wasn’t trying to say something. I could feel her stress. She’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ve got to go. Well, he’s sleeping right now. Nope, we’ll talk about it later.’ Then she came up to me and was like, ‘Look, your opponent missed the weight.’ I was just like, ‘OK.’ I was like, ‘Well, I’ll still fight him but let’s get, like, 30 percent.’”
Benavidez, 35, will be entering his third UFC title fight this weekend against Figueiredo. His first two came against the great Demetrious Johnson who defeated Benavidez on both occasions. Benavidez has been trying to get back to the big show ever since and wasn’t going to let a few pounds come between him and UFC gold.
“It was never in my mind to not take the fight,” Benavidez said. “I just said, ‘Oh, OK. Well, let’s see what we can do.’ Obviously, I wanted him to suffer more. I was like, ‘Tell him he has to make 126,’ because there was an hour left still. He didn’t even come in at 11 (a.m.). He came in at 10 (a.m.), I think. It was like, ‘You have an hour and you’re 2.5 over or whatever.’ So anyway, that was about it.”
Figueiredo was apologetic for missing weight and will now have to prove his worth all over again when he squares off with Benavidez in the main event. The Brazilian has won six out of his first seven UFC appearances and currently has the best knockout power in the division. Benavidez better be ready for a war.
Luckily, “Joe B-Wan Kenobi” has been preparing for this moment since his last loss to “Mighty Mouse” back in 2013. Benavidez has won nine out of his 10 UFC fights ever since and has arguably never looked better. That’s why the veteran contender is supremely confident entering the next biggest fight of his storied career.
“You have to lose respect for somebody in that regard,” Benavidez said. “They have the biggest opportunity of their life there and they squander it like that. … It’s just more conviction that he wasn’t going to ever win the belt, anyway. Obviously, I was the only one who was going to win it. I’m the only one who came to win it. It doesn’t change what I’m going to do. He tried to get out of the first fight he did when it got moved a week up. He had a weight issue. This fight, he’s trying to get out with this.
“It’s like, ‘You’re not going to stop me from what I came to do.’ That was never a question. Of course you lose respect for the guy. That goes into just more the conviction of, ‘I did everything I was supposed to do.’ I was ready for this. I’m the only one who came to win this belt. I was the only one from the beginning that was going to win it. Like I said, it’s just more conviction in the things we already believed in.”
UFC Fight Night 169 will take place this evening (Sat., Feb. 29, 2020) live on ESPN+ from inside Chartway Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 169 fight card below, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.