Perennial flyweight title contender Joseph Benavidez is retiring from mixed martial arts at 37 years old.
Multiple outlets confirmed that Benavidez has elected to remove himself from the USADA drug testing pool. Benavidez exits the sport with a 28-8 career mark that included four attempts at flyweight gold in the UFC and a failed bid at the 135-pound belt in World Extreme Cagefighting. MMAjunkie.com first brought word of Benavidez’s retirement.
“I’ve known for a while,” Benavidez told MMAFighting.com. “I’ve always fought to be the best and also because it was fun. I probably knew my last title shot was my last shot ever so that was kind of not going to happen for me.
“I still knew I could compete in the top five. I could beat guys in the top five, top 10 easy but one of the main things is a lot of these guys that are coming up that are killers or I see them, it’s their UFC debut and they take pictures with me in the back and say, ‘I’ve looked up to you for so long, I used to get off school and watch you in WEC with my dad, I look up to you’ — it’s like, I don’t want to fight these guys next, these killers. I don’t want to beat them up or have them beat me up. There was no more fights that were going to be fun.”
Retirement adventures are gonna be fun My King Forever @JoeJitsu— Megan Olivi (@MeganOlivi) September 15, 2021
Benavidez last appeared at UFC 259 in March, when he dropped a three-round verdict to flyweight contender Askar Askarov. Prior to that, he twice lost to Deiveson Figueiredo in championship bouts, falling via second-round TKO at UFC Fight Night 169 in February 2020 and via first-round submission at UFC Fight Night 172 in July 2020.
Benavidez took part in the UFC’s inaugural flyweight title fight, losing a split decision to Demetrious Johnson at UFC 152 in September 2012. He would lose to “Mighty Mouse” via first-round KO in a championship rematch at UFC on Fox 9 in December 2013. The Las Cruces, N.M., native also challenged Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight throne at WEC 50, dropping a five-round verdict in August 2010.
Though he was unable to capture a belt in a major organization, Benavidez was among the top contenders at 125 pounds for the duration of his UFC career. His resume includes victories over the likes of Henry Cejudo, Jussier Formiga (twice), Dustin Ortiz, Alex Perez, John Moraga, Ian McCall and Yasuhiro Urushitani, to name a few. At bantamweight, he earned wins against Miguel Torres, Eddie Wineland, Jeff Curran and Rani Yahya, among others. Benavidez leaves the sport tied with Johnson for the most victories in UFC flyweight history with 13.
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