BJPenn.Com Exclusive: Joseph Benavidez on Thrift Stores, Being a Champion and Mighty Mouse
This is the second part of our feature interview with UFC Flyweight Contender Joseph Benavidez. To Check out part one click here.
Flyweight is definitely the ideal weight for the 28-year-old Benavidez. Standing just 5’4” tall he was predominately the smaller fighter every time he competed as a bantamweight. The fact that his only two losses are to Cruz goes to show you just how talented he truly is. When the UFC created the 125lb division Benavidez knew he it was going to be his permanent home and he immediately began preparing to cut the extra 10lbs.
“The weight cut was actually perfect, honestly I made it a little too easy,” Benavidez said. “I went on a crash diet and was running every day. About a month out I was walking around at 130lbs, just five pounds away. Once I got down to that weight I didn’t want to jump back up so I became obsessed with it. I feel as though I didn’t get as big as I could have. Look at Johnson and how he looked in the second fight with McCall compared to the first fight. It’s a learning process; I just need to do it better where I’m around 140lbs a month before the fight.”
Mighty Mouse and Benavidez have a good relationship and are very friendly outside of the cage. In fact the two recently attended a Coldplay concert together. That all goes out the window when the two meet in Toronto. Benavidez and Johnson are similar in that they are very quick and have a solid wrestling base. According to Benavidez the similarities end there and he holds the advantages in the other key areas.
“I feel I hold a lot of the advantages over DJ, the only thing he may have over me is his speed,” offered Joe-Jitsu. “I feel I have more power, he does mix his wrestling in pretty well, but I feel if he tries to wrestle with me he will be in trouble. Neither one of us has really ever lost a fight on our feet even in our losses to Dominick Cruz. In my second fight with Cruz score the takedown that put him over the edge and DJ was beating him on his feet so Cruz had to control him on the ground.”
“I have the advantage on the ground submission wise, but he does have more takedowns than any of his opponents. He uses his wrestling really well and he beat McCall by taking him down. I feel as though I can negate all of that with my power, technique and my own speed.”
The flyweight division is still a work in process; the UFC is constantly looking to bring in new talent to bolster the weight class. Benavidez likened it to the early days of the WEC where fans were familiar with two fighters, but soon became enthralled with the action that took place during everyone of their events.
“The thing about the flyweight division is it’s going to take time,” Benavidez said. “Think about when the WEC started the fans knew Urijah Faber and Miguel Torres and then it began to grow. There’s talent out there, even when the UFC started to grow, the fans knew Rampage and Chuck Liddell; they didn’t know many of the other guys. With the UFC growing and being promoted so well it will allow the flyweights to grow even faster than the other weight classes did.”
“It’s just going to take time to bring in the talent. We’ve got guys like John Dodson who’s fighting Jussier da Silva. Of course McCall and Urushitani are always going to be factors and I’m sure we’ll see some more bantamweight fighters drop down. The UFC believes in us and the fans are coming around, you can’t deny how exciting this division is. We will be the most exciting weight class in the world.”
Having a personality is something that will help fans gravitate towards a certain fighter. Benavidez has a great sense of humor and can be considered a bit quirky as evidenced by his love of shopping at thrift stores.
“Clothes shopping has always been a big hobby of mine,” said Benavidez proudly. “I’ve always had a different style since I was younger. It started because we didn’t have a lot of money and I was always able to find cool clothes at the Goodwill Stores. Even when I started to earn some money I continued to shop there, I like finding unique and different clothes that I can buy. Through the years I’ve bought some nice clothes as well, my motto is look good, feel good, do good!”
Benavidez has a true rags to riches story in the making here and a title win would certainly be the icing on the cake. He packed everything he owned into his Lincoln and drove from New Mexico to California with one thing on his mind; to become a world champion. All that separates that dream from becoming reality is Johnson and 25 minutes inside a cage.
“It’s crazy considering everything that I’ve gone through,” explained Benavidez. “I’ve worked really hard and made a lot of sacrifices to get to this point. I belong here, everyone who gets in this sport wants to fight here and be in this position. I’m lucky to be here, I’ve worked hard to get here and I believe in myself and plan on making this the norm. Every one of us wants to be a headliner and to be a champion and now that I’m here I plan on staying in this position.”
With months of training behind him and a main event slot lost due to a situation out of his control, Benavidez knows two things are certain come Saturday night; the fight will be a classic and he will walk out the first ever UFC Flyweight Champion.
“The fans will see what they always get from me and that’s non-stop action and a ton of heart,” said Benavidez. “I trained really hard for this fight and I love going in to the Octagon and fighting for the fans. I’m more motivated and inspired than ever and excited to be fighting for the world title. Mighty Mouse is a great opponent and you are going to see a great fight. I respect him as a person and a fighter; he always brings it in every fight. Every single fight in this weight class has been entertaining and on September 22nd fans will see stuff that they have never seen before. It will be a night to remember, I am looking to finish the fight and come home as the first ever UFC Flyweight Champion.”