Joseph Benavidez is hanging up the gloves after a deeply respected run in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and the greater mixed martial arts (MMA) sphere.
Benavidez (28-8 MMA, 19-7 UFC) has retired from the sport, according to MMA Junkie. The four-time UFC title challenger asked to be removed from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing pool. Benavidez subsequently confirmed the retirement to ESPN.
“I kind of knew I wasn’t gonna fight, but I was just kind of letting it linger,” Benavidez said. “You never know. But, it’s just come to that point.
“These guys are killers,” he continued. “They’re all the guys I’m gonna fight next. All these killers coming in that would be my next fight are coming up to me and saying, ‘Dude, I have to take a picture with you. I used to come home from school and watch the WEC with my dad...’ That all feels really great to hear. But, it’s not fun for me to fight a guy who tells me that. I don’t want to beat them up or for them to beat me up, either.”
Benavidez challenged for UFC’s Flyweight title on four occasions: for the inaugural title against Demetrious Johnson at UFC 152 in Sept. 2012, a second fight with “Mighty Mouse” in Dec. 2013, and twice against Deiveson Figueiredo in Feb. 2020 and July 2020.
“I don’t think it’s anything I expected to do or be,” he said of being a pioneer. “I don’t know. I can’t even really explain how, I guess, I can be really considered that. You’re not doing it to be that. You’re doing it because you love it. It’s a weird thing. It’s one of those things where something happens and it’s really good, but you can’t even imagine it being that good.”
Megan Olivi, Benavidez’s wife of six years, acknowledged the retirement in a tweet posted on Wednesday.
Retirement adventures are gonna be fun ☺️ ❤️ My King Forever @JoeJitsu— Megan Olivi (@MeganOlivi) September 15, 2021
“Retirement adventures are gonna be fun,” she wrote, tagging Benavidez. “My King Forever.”
UFC President, Dana White, also provided a statement on the retirement news.
“Joe Benavidez has been a pillar of the lighter weight divisions for years,” White told ESPN. “Since joining WEC in 2008 and then UFC in 2011, he’s used his unstoppable pace and nasty guillotine to remain at the top of two divisions for 13 years… His epic battles with [Dominick] Cruz, [Demetrious] Johnson and [Henry] Cejudo will never be forgotten. He was a constant professional and carried himself in a way that demanded respect from his peers.”
Ultimately, Benavidez lived out his dreams and once that passion fizzled, it was time to move on.
“For 10 years, I’ve been in title contention,” he concluded. “Two different weight classes. It was kind of weird because I would always think to myself, ‘Is it weird for other people to fight and know they’ll never win the title? Or are they just doing it for the job?’
“I never felt like it was a job to me,” he concluded. “I didn’t want it to become like that, either. I always just fought to be the best. After my last title fight, I felt I’ll probably never go for a title again. Then it’s like, what am I really doing it for?”
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