Sherdog’s Top 10: Giant Killers

Heir Apparent

By Tristen Critchfield Mar 27, 2012

8. Joseph Benavidez

Regarded by some as the best flyweight in the world, Benavidez lived up to the hype by beating Yasuhiro Urushitani via technical knockout in the second round at UFC on FX 2. He will eventually face the Demetrious Johnson-Ian McCall winner at a to-be-determined event to crown the first-ever UFC 125-pound champion.

Prior to introduction of the smallest weight class in the world’s largest MMA promotion, Benavidez was forced to make a living at bantamweight. He acquitted himself quite nicely, beating former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres, grappling specialist Rani Yayha and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Jeff Curran along the way. Like most everyone else who has faced the current UFC 135-pound king, Benavidez was twice unable to overcome Dominick Cruz before the WEC dissolved. However, Benavidez has come closer than anyone -- including Team Alpha Male stablemate Urijah Faber -- to beating “The Dominator” during his current reign.

Benavidez lost a unanimous decision to Cruz in a No. 1 contender bout at WEC 42. He would face the Alliance MMA product again at WEC 50, where he lost a closely contested split decision to the champion. It was as stern a test as Cruz has faced to date, as Benavidez demonstrated good counter punching and appeared to break his opponent’s nose with a knee from the clinch in round four. It was a noteworthy dose of punishment absorbed by the notoriously hard-to-hit Cruz, and the effort solidified Benavidez as the No. 2 bantamweight in the world. At his natural weight class, he has even more potential.

“I felt like I would bring power to this division,” Benavidez said after he finished Urushitani. “I think this is going to be a sign of things to come in the flyweight division.”

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