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Monday, Feb 21, 2011

Loveland’sThrilled to Be Fighting Top Ranked Benavidez

By Kelsey Mowatt, photo courtesy Team Quest
While many fans may have missed Ian Loveland’s UFC debut this past December, when he scored a unanimous decision victory over Tyler Toner at the TUF 12 Finale, the veteran’s impressive performance evidently didn’t get overlooked by the UFC brass. In just his second Octagon bout, Loveland has been asked to fight top ranked, bantamweight contender Joseph Benavidez, and the Team Quest fighter couldn’t be happier about it.
“I’m really excited about it,” Loveland told FCF when asked about his upcoming, March 19th tilt with Benavidez. “I said I wanted to start fighting the top guys and I didn’t want to take things slow, so, I got pretty much what I wanted from the UFC. It’s a great opportunity for me.”
In Benavidez (13-2), Loveland will face a man whose only professional losses have come to current bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz. Both losses have come by decision, and the rematch last August was scored as a split decision in favor of Cruz. The Team Alpha Male fighter’s record includes wins over Wagnney Fabiano, Rani Yahya, Jeff Curran, and former champ Miguel Torres, and it’s a resume that Loveland is keenly aware of.
“I take it as a compliment for sure,” Loveland acknowledged, while discussing the fact that the UFC has matched him up with one of the division’s best fighters next. “I think it’s a good match-up style wise; I think the UFC saw that. I guess I could be totally wrong; they could just think he’s going to beat the crap out of me for the highlight reel (laughing)…I think judging by my first performance and my style, I don’t see how we don’t match up real well.”
While Loveland (14-7) may not have the kind of profile that a contender like Benavidez has yet, the 27 year-old fighter has been steadily rising up the bantamweight rankings for some time now. Heading into the UFC 128 bout, not only has Loveland won seven straight, the 5’8 tall bantamweight has recorded two knockouts and two TKO stoppage wins during the three plus year stretch.
“I have the reach advantage which is something I can always fall back too,” said Loveland when asked if he may look to keep the 5’4 Benavidez on the outside and utilize his striking. “I just can’t see me going into a fight, where I’m prepared to pick guys off with a jab and have been doing it in the gym all day long, when I get out there that’s just not who I am.”
“My frame is such that I could fight that way,” Loveland added. “Mentally I like to get in there and just start swinging. I do have a little game plan going; I’m not going to go out there and be wild and crazy. I definitely am going to be rough with him though.”
Of course it will be interesting to see whether or not Benavidez, a former collegiate wrestler, looks to take the bout to the mat.
“He’s a good wrestler,” said Loveland, who will meet Benavidez at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. “His wrestling seems to work for MMA too, which you know, a lot of guys have trouble transitioning into. My MMA wrestling is also really good, so I don’t really see that being an advantage for him. I’m definitely ready to wrestle with him.”
While one would think that Loveland could be just a win or two away from a title shot, if he defeats Benavidez on March 19th, the Team Quest fighter is trying to stay focused on the task at hand.
“That’s one of those things that I’m trying not to think about,” Loveland told FCF. “Right now I’m just concentrating on beating up Joseph…Not only is it important that I get the win, but that I look exciting while I get the win.”
posted by Full Contact Fighter @ 3:21 pm
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