Beyond The Fight: Benavidez vs. Johnson

Will Power

By Jack Encarnacao Sep 21, 2012


“I have a younger brother and an older brother, and the majority of my career, actually my whole career until recently, both of them have been in prison the whole time, for similar reasons to my dad. So it was kind of in my blood. I’m actually the only one in my family not to go to prison. And that was kind of a lesson learned, gave me an inspiration, and kind of steered me away from that lifestyle.

And don’t get me wrong, I had a rough patch where I was going down the same road, but that was kind of what made me stop, seeing my older brother’s mistakes and my younger brother down that same road. I had a terrible drinking problem, also drugs, in my one year of college. I moved back to New Mexico and didn’t have much to live for, man. I was somewhat of a lowlife. I drank, did my share of drugs and everything, and experimented.

Me and another buddy kind of hit rock bottom together, and just kind of made the decision like, ‘Hey man, this is not what we want to do. Let’s kind of switch it up, not go out as much, not do this.’ Now it’s been eight years that we haven’t touched alcohol or drugs or anything. And the cool thing about that is my friend now is a doctor, and I’m in my position about to go for a world title. So it worked out pretty good for us, and it’s awesome to look at where we were and where we are now, all because of putting that lifestyle behind us. We’d support each other and call each other, like, ‘Hey, what are you going to do? Well, obviously let’s not go out tonight, let’s do this and that.’ You start getting really into board games. That’s one of my favorite things to do, is just play board games with all my buddies and stuff. And you know, most people, especially my age, aren’t really that into it, so I’ve got to find a select group to get down with. So you just start doing different stuff like that. Before you knew it, we just kind of were like, ‘Hey man, we haven’t drank.’ And we kept going.

Honestly, when I stopped drinking, I felt like I was finally living and I was finally myself. For the longest time, years and years, my mind was altered in some way. So when I stopped drinking and doing everything that I was doing, I was like, ‘Man, I’m enjoying life, I’m living in this moment, I’m remembering what’s happening.’ For the longest time I was just this crazy dude that was altered by some kind of chemical and my brain was altered. And now I am myself and I’m doing what I want to do.”


(Referencing the Miguel Torres fight at UFC 130)

“I kicked and he checked my kick and I rolled it over too much. I stepped back and I heard ‘crunch, crunch.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, something broke.’ I just kept on fighting and went back to the corner at the end of the second round. I told (coach Matt Hume) ‘My leg is, you know, f’ed.’ And he goes, ‘Well, you got another leg don’t you?’ I was like,’Yeah, I’m still going to go do my job. But I just want to tell you now, my leg is screwed up.’

Sure enough, I went back to work on Monday and my boss went, ‘Dude, you should get x-rays.’ And I left that day, and the next day I was in the x-ray room and (the doctor) was like, yeah, you broke your leg, you broke your fibula. If my boss had never told me to go get x-rays, I don’t think I would. I just thought it was a really bad (leg kick) check, because I could still walk on it.

It’s mental. Your body can do amazing things as long as your mind stays focused. I always tell my wife before I go in there and fight: I say I’m probably going to break bones or whatever, but I owe it to myself, I owe it to her, I owe it to my coaches. I dedicated eight weeks to just training hardcore, and if I’m in a fight and I break something, I’m going to keep on fighting. That’s just my mentality. The UFC pays me to fight, and I’m going to do that regardless if I break something or whatever. I fought Brad Pickett, broke my hand. I did a muay Thai fight, broke my ribs, kept on fighting. It’s just part of my life, I guess.”

Continue Reading » Page Three: High School Gridiron


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