Joseph Benavidez could move to 125 when the UFC adopts the division. | Photo: Dave Mandel
At 5-foot-4, Joseph Benavidez is used to questions about how he’s going to handle his opponent’s reach.
It’s not an issue in his eyes. In fact, he believes the advantage is his.
That’s why Benavidez thinks his bout against Eddie Wineland on Sunday at UFC Live 5 is a “perfect matchup.”
“He does fight really tall,” Benavidez said on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I like to use my low center of gravity, crouch down, get a lot of level changes, and he fights really high. I think I do great against tall people that kind of stand up straight like that.”
Benavidez has honed a style based on him being the shorter fighter with the lesser reach. At 14-2, with his only losses coming against UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, it’s hard to argue with his approach. He doesn’t think Wineland will have an answer for it either.
“It’s going to be a great fight,” Benavidez said. “Wineland always goes in there and tries to finish and puts on a high pace. I always try to finish and I think I put on an even higher pace. I definitely see it finishing, by me. It’s just going to be a good fight. He’s a threat in boxing, but I don’t think he’s a complete MMA fighter, and that’s where he’s going to lose the fight.”
A win would be Benavidez’s third straight and his fifth in six fights. Because he’s lost twice to Cruz, though, he doesn’t expect to get another title shot unless the belt changes hands.
“It’s no secret I’m kind of in a difficult position having lost to the champion twice,” Benavidez said. “It’s kind of hard to get a rematch, I think. We’ve had two great fights. They’ve both been close. Even the last one was a split decision, but the fact is there’s two losses there and a lot of people don’t want to see a third one even though it’d be a great fight.”
At this point, Benavidez plans to just keep improving. If another title shot at 135 pounds doesn’t materialize, he could still get one at 125 when the UFC adopts the division. That doesn’t mean he’s eager to drop down, though.
“Actually 125, to tell you the truth, doesn’t ever sound good,” Benavidez said. “It makes me cringe. It’s kind of bittersweet. … That would be a great option for me, but the fact is it’s tough to make it. I’m one of those guys that really just enjoys just kind of laying back and fighting being fun for me. I honestly don’t have to cut weight. I don’t worry about it until I get to the venue like five days before.”
He’s willing to make the move, but for now his division is bantamweight and his only option is to keep winning.
“I don’t know when the 125 class is coming,” Benavidez said, “but I feel if I can be the best fighter I can be, that’s all I can do. They can’t deny me if I wipe out the whole division.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:18:40).