At UFC Brooklyn when the UFC makes their first appearance on ESPN programming (ESPN+), the card will be headlined by a big champion vs champion bout as flyweight titleholder Henry Cejudo looks to defend against bantamweight champ TJ Dillashaw.
This will be Dillashaw’s divisional debut at 125-pounds. Therefore, it remains to be seen if he can make the weight.
In the case that he or Cejudo won’t be able to or if one of them gets injured, MMAJunkie has now confirmed that perennial top 3 contender Joseph Benavidez will act as the fight’s alternate.
Originally, Benavidez had his own fight set with the unbeaten rising contender in Deiveson Figueiredo for UFC 233. However, just yesterday it was announced that January 26’s UFC 233 event has been canceled. And instead of having his fight moved, Benavidez will prepare, potentially, for a title shot.
For Joseph Benavidez, he actually has some history with each TJ Dillashaw and Henry Cejudo.
He and Dillashaw used to be longtime teammates at Team Alpha Male. That was until Dillashaw departed with striking coach Duane Ludwig in Colorado. Benavidez was still friendly with Dillashaw after the leave and even still trained with him a bit.
As for Cejudo, Benavidez is the last man to have beaten him. The two fought after coaching on season 24 of The Ultimate Fighter. Benavidez would take home the split decision victory in December 2016 at the finale.
Since then, Benavidez has suffered a torn ACL and has gone 1-1 since returning. One of those fights being a close loss to Sergio Pettis and a recent TKO win over Alex Perez at the TUF 28 Finale.
With all the talk of the division possibly going away, Benavidez is doing his best to help prove that there’s a reason to keep the ’25ers around.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 12/13/2018