Joseph Benavidez isn’t going anywhere, and he thinks that’s a good sign for the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s flyweight division.
Benavidez revealed to ESPN during a media scrum that he just recently signed a new contract with the UFC. The former 125-pound title challenger will face Dustin Ortiz at UFC Fight Night Brooklyn on Jan. 19, a card that marks the promotion’s debut on ESPN+.
“I just signed a new four-fight deal. I think that’s a good sign,” Benavidez said. “I didn’t even know guys were getting cut until I saw them fighting in RIZN, and I was like, ‘How did those guys get cut?’… The way that I just gauge it is look, there’s a flyweight title fight. One of the best pound-for-pound guys is coming down to our weight to fight. We have a new champion headlining the first card ever with ESPN.
“That’s how I gauge it. I’m fighting on it. There’s other fights being signed.”
Ever since the UFC “traded” longtime flyweight king Demetrious Johnson to One Championship for Ben Askren, rumors of the 125-pound division’s demise have been rampant, and a number of fighters who competed in the weight class were released. UFC President Dana White has been vague regarding the subject, but for now, there are still flyweight fights being booked in the Octagon. That includes the UFC Fight Night Brooklyn headliner, which will see Henry Cejudo defend the belt against bantamweight ruler T.J. Dillashaw at the Barclays Center.
Benavidez, meanwhile, has won seven of his last eight bouts at 125 pounds and remains one of the division’s top contenders. He could conceivably step in for either main event fighter should an injury or other unforeseen circumstance arise. The 34-year-old lost twice to Demetrious Johnson in title bouts, but he does own a split verdict over Cejudo.