UFC 152’s Joseph Benavidez: “It’s Going to Mean a lot to Me to Bring the Belt Back to Team Alpha Male.”
By Tom Taylor
Suddenly, UFC 152, which goes down in Toronto on September 22, has become most anticipated for its new main event, a light-heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Vitor Belfort. Before this bout was added to the card however, UFC 152 was expected to be headlined by the organization’s first ever flyweight title fight, between former bantamweights Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
During the UFC 152 media conference call this week, both men expressed excitement about the opportunity to make UFC history.
Benavidez, who secured his spot in the flyweight tournament final by knocking out Yasuhiro Urushitani at UFC on FX 2 in Australia, says the upcoming fight is the culmination of a long-time dream. He also holds no ill-will to the scrap between Jones and Belfort replacing his own as the main-event.
“It’s just pure excitement for me; inspiration, motivation, an all-time high. This is what I’ve worked for my entire career. Since I started the game, [the goal] was to be the UFC champion. There’s definitely a cherry on top, that it’s the first one [flyweight title fight] ever.
“What a way to start a legacy, and that’s what we’re trying to do here. There’s definitely a cherry on top. It’s awesome to be on this card that’s so stacked. Even though we’re not the co-main event, now we have so many more eyes watching us. I have a hundred percent faith that we’re going to deliver, and, like I said, that many more people are going to be watching.”
The dynamic flyweight continued to say he hopes to steal the show. “I’m going to do my best to make this the most exciting division in the sport.”
Benavidez trains at Team Alpha Male, in California, which is also home to recent UFC title challengers Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes. Neither Faber nor Mendes was successful in their title endeavours, making Benavidez even more eager to bring UFC gold home to their team.
“That’s going to mean a lot for me and our team. They’ve both had their title shots and in the future I believe both will again, they’re training hard. They’re two of the best in the world. But that’s kind of the thing at the moment that’s lacking from our team. You can look at our team and say ‘That’s one of the best teams in the world,’ or a lot of people say ‘That’s one of the best teams of lightweight guys.’ But the one thing missing is a UFC title, so it’s going to mean a lot for me to bring it back to the team.
“I’m a product of them and how they push me and what they’ve taught me. So it’s going to mean a lot (to) me to bring the belt back to Team Alpha Male.”
Benavidez’s opponent, Johnson, not surprisingly is equally excited, and also promises the first ever flyweight title fight will be the kick-off to an exciting new division.
“Yeah we’re two weeks out and I’m super excited to get in there and mix it up with Joseph. He’s a great competitor and, like he said to make history and be the first ever fighter to be crowned flyweight champion in a new weight class—I’m speechless. And I agree; I know we’re both going to deliver. There’s a reason why Dana White opened up the flyweight division and had the best four guys in the world. We’re going to deliver on September 22nd.”