Joseph Benavidez: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Joseph Benavidez scored another quality win Nov. 11 when he submitted Wagnney Fabiano at WEC 52. The victory should keep him in the title hunt at 135 pounds, but if Urijah Faber ends up the champion, Benavidez doesn’t want a shot against him.
“I’m always going to be working towards the belt,” Benavidez said during a recent interview on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “If Urijah has the belt, I’m not going to fight him. That’s something I’ve discussed and I’ve made the decision. It’s just not in me to go in there and fight [Faber]. People talk about teammates fighting, but he’s not [just] a teammate of mine. He’s someone who’s changed my life. From day one he’s shown me so much kindness and changed my life, and it’s not in me to go in there and try to fight someone that’s done all that for me.”
Faber was also victorious Nov. 11. A former WEC 145-pound champion, he dropped to 135 and choked Takeya Mizugaki unconscious. The performance might have earned Faber a title shot. Benavidez, who has lost twice to current champion Dominick Cruz, is all for it.
“I’ve got to fight my way back anyway,” he said. “I am in a peculiar position because if Urijah has the belt, I’m not going to fight him. And if Dominick Cruz has the belt, I don’t think they’re going to give me a third shot at him. It is a different position, but what can I do besides just keep getting better and give it my all every fight?”
Benavidez’s two losses to Cruz are the only defeats of his career. In August, Cruz edged him out via split decision, but Benavidez couldn’t have rebounded much better than he did by submitting a jiu-jitsu black belt like Fabiano. Except Faber concluded the event by subbing Mizugaki and taking the $10,000 Submission of the Night bonus Benavidez likely would have won otherwise.
“It could have gone a little bit better, if Urijah maybe would have got Knockout of the Night and not stolen Submission of the Night from me,” Benavidez joked. “That’s about the only way, but he deserves it. Obviously he’s a great fighter and he submitted another great fighter and basically killed him, so he does deserve the 10 grand.”
Faber did say he’d split the $10,000, but Benavidez declined.
“I’m not going to make him split it with me,” Benavidez said. “He earned it. That’s something he earned. He worked as hard as me if not harder to make the weight cut. … I’m not going to ask him for something that he earned.”
In addition to wins by Faber and Benavidez, Team Alpha Male’s Chad Mendes also outpointed Javier Vazquez at WEC 52. For a camp that’s played a strong role in the WEC, it was a fitting ending to their run in a promotion that will soon be merging with the UFC.
“That was my last WEC fight, and what a way to go out. Especially for our team and everyone,” Benavidez said. “It seemed that it was just the perfect night, the perfect ending, and I’m looking forward to the future of course.”
The future is in the Octagon. Benavidez sees himself competing on the main card of a UFC show next year.
“I think if they know what’s good for them they’ll for sure put me on a main card,” he said. “I think I’m one of the most exciting, one of the most action-packed fighters. There’s never a boring Joseph Benavidez fight. That’s what they want. I can definitely see myself on a main card. I think the [bantamweights] as a whole and all the WEC fighters coming in are going to deserve it, but I’ll do what I have to do. I just want to fight, and it’s going to be a pleasure to fight for the UFC. I’ll make my mark, and if I am on the undercard, I’m going to fight my hardest to finish the fight and get on the TV card.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 44:43) with Benavidez, who also discussed a move to the flyweight division.