Joseph Benavidez did his job by stopping Yasuhiro Urushitani in the UFC’s flyweight tournament, but he won’t get a title shot until Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson fight again due to an error counting the judges’ scorecards.
In an interview with the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show, Benavidez discussed his win, the wait and more.
On cutting to 125 pounds: “The process of dieting and being professional in that aspect was a little harder, but the actual weight cut the week of the fight was actually easier because it was a process and everything I was eating was so clean. … It was an easy cut and I felt amazing. I think I actually felt better cutting to 125 than I do cutting to 135 just for the fact that it was a laid-out process over time.”
On his win over Urushitani: “Yasuhiro’s a tricky counterstriker. I’ve seen a lot of his fights. He doesn’t take a whole lot of damage, and people really have a hard time getting their hands on him because he’s so good at just running backwards. … I just knew I kind of had to walk him down, not so much chase him. I knew when I did get my hands on him, I could take him down and have a good advantage on the ground. It felt great grappling a guy my size. I felt like I did have a huge advantage on the ground, and maybe [with] a few more seconds in that first round, I could have finished him. But as far as the standup went, I just tried not to chase him down. I was going after him a little bit in the first and I landed a few strikes, but not nearly as much as I wanted, but in the second round, I kind of realized what I had to do to hit the guy.”
On McCall and Johnson having to fight again, which delays the tournament final: “I was disappointed, but these two guys are the most deserving guys out there. It’s going to be a great fight to watch again. I just want to fight the guy who is the best guy, 100 percent. … But it’s a little frustrating that they get to fight again and they get to get paid again while I sit there. They get to get exposure again from fighting again and get paid while I’m going to sit there, not get paid, not really get the exposure they’re getting, and wait for the title, but I think it will be all worth it when the title comes. It will be all worth the wait.”
On reports that the McCall-Johnson rematch will take place in June: “I was hoping it would maybe be in like April and they could just get it done with. … I was definitely planning on not waiting that long. That’s a little longer than I want to wait. I would just like it to be earlier.”
On whether he’ll ever fight at 135 pounds again: “I’d obviously like to establish myself at 125 for a few title defenses before I did another [run] at 135, but I think I’m going to fight again at 135 too in the future. But I also think that the 125 division is going to continue to develop. There’s going to be a lot more competitors and fights for me than I’m thinking of right now. We’ll see what happens. I think the division’s going to fill up and there’s going to be great fights for me to have there, but I think eventually I’ll fight at 135.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:03:55).