Joseph Benavidez happy and motivated again ahead of UFC comeback

Joseph Benavidez has earned six wins in his last six UFC fights. Still, the no.-1-ranked flyweight will likely have to win at least one more bout before challenging for the title again. That might be logical from a promoter’s standpoint. Benavidez, though, doesn’t want to accept that.

At a press conference held Tuesday at UFC headquarters in Las Vegas, the fighter played down the fact that he lost to flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson twice. In his mind, there’s no real explanation why the two best fighters in the division shouldn’t go at it at least one more time. Or two. Or even some more than that.

“As far as skill goes, there’s not really a question to me”, Benavidez said. “It’s the highest-ranked fighter against the champion, so if you want to have the two best fights, we can have seven fights. Even that’d be more exciting than some of the fights he [Demetrious Johnson] has had to fill the cards and defend his title. Why not let the two best fighters face each other?”

Benavidez, who is set to face Sergio Pettis on the Fight-Pass-streamed preliminary card of UFC 225 next month, seemed frustrated about the stagnation of his career. Having not fought since a December 2016 win over Henry Cejudo, Benavidez moved to Las Vegas to train with his teammates at the UFC’s Performance Institute. The first to feel the effects of that change is supposed to be Pettis.

“I’m going to start my comeback with this fight against Sergio Pettis in Chicago and I’d like to have one more fight before the end of the year […]. We’re in the middle of the year, so I want to fight again at the end of the year.”

However, knowing that even if he wins, he might still have to wait for a chance to fight for the title, Benavidez made it a point to state that he’s having fun with the process again. At 33 years old and with dozens of fights to his credit, that’s more than a small detail.

“Honestly, I’m just happy. It’s amazing to be in this place, it’s been 18 months since I have been. It’s funny because I’m a veteran, obviously, 34 fights, but I just feel like a kid again in the sport. I’m happy in that regard, this time away has done so much for me, like, mentally. Like I said, I’m happy training, happy fighting.”

“I have a whole new group and atmosphere around me, that makes for good energy on my part. Just the change in general […]. I love fighting, I love training every single day, but it’s just what I’ve been doing, I’m not thinking about how fun it is or how cool. Just another fight. And having it taken away from me for so long and getting it back, I’m happy. I’ve got a newcomer mentality, but I also have the experience, so it’s like the best of both worlds coming together.”

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