Joseph Benavidez (left): Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
After a dominant run in the IFL in which he finished all six of his opponents, Wagnney Fabiano has struggled to excite fans in the WEC. Joseph Benavidez thinks he is still a great fighter, just a boring one.
However, in their bantamweight matchup Thursday at WEC 52, Benavidez is confident entertainment will prevail. If not, Benavidez has some suggestions -- halfway serious, mind you -- for Fabiano’s future.
“Nothing against him, but he is a boring fighter,” Benavidez said during a recent “Savage Dog Show” interview on the Sherdog Radio Network. “But he gets the job done. He goes out there and he holds [opponents] down. That’s what he’s good at. He has stifling top control. I’m like a greased pig out there -- without the grease of course. It’s a great matchup. If Wagnney can make me fight a boring fight, I think he should just be kicked out of MMA period.”
Fabiano began his WEC tenure with a lackluster win over Akitoshi Tamura. The bout didn’t go the distance -- Fabiano subbed him with 12 seconds left -- but the Brazilian’s next three wins did. His one loss in the WEC was his most entertaining fight, when Mackens Semerzier stunned him with a triangle choke that was Sherdog.com’s 2009 Submission of the Year.
Still, Fabiano remains a world-class grappler and a very good fighter. He’s 2-0 since dropping to 135 pounds. Meanwhile Benavidez is trying to bounce back after losing a split decision to bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
“I’ve only really stumbled on one opponent, who happens to be the world champion,” Benavidez said. “I feel great about this fight. I’m the exact kind of fighter that’s going to give a fighter like Wagnney problems with my speed. I don’t think his cardio’s been the best at 135. I think that could also be a factor. I’m definitely looking to welcome him to the division and have him see what it feels like to face an elite bantamweight.”
While Fabiano is strong at controlling from the top position on the ground, Benavidez is good at getting up. In fact, Benavidez hopes to use this skill to strain Fabiano’s endurance.
“Every time I get up, I know he’s going to be really tired,” Benavidez said. “I’m looking to exploit him on the feet also.”
Benavidez believes he has the striking advantage, but before he does any damage standing, the key to the fight could be the scrambles. Even against a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt like Fabiano, who’s certainly capable of grabbing a quick submission despite his recent run of decisions, Benavidez likes his chances when fighting for position.
That’s because he scrambles regularly with teammates like Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes. In the Team Alpha Male camp, scrambles aren’t simply a matter of hustling. Outworking your opponent is essential, but there’s technique to it as well.
“A lot of our guys, Urijah, Chad, they have a lot of technique behind the scrambles,” Benavidez explained. “These guys are better wrestlers than me, and I have this champion mentality: I want to be the best guy in the room. I couldn’t compete with these guys in technique. I would just move until I got out of something. That’s kind of where I learned to scramble, I feel. Through the years they’ve given me some techniques. There’s actually a lot of technique that goes into the scrambling. I think that goes also with our great cardio because that’s one of the hardest things you can do in a fight is just move, move, move, move, move.”
That’s the kind of pace Benavidez hopes to push Thursday. If Fabiano doesn’t shut him down from the top, an entertaining match should result.
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:06:36) with Benavidez, who also discussed his love for cereal and how he will handle teammate Urijah Faber joining him in the 135-pound division.