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Joseph Benavidez channels Jerry Maguire, says third shot at Johnson 'would complete me'
For six years, Demetrious Johnson has been Joseph Benavidez’s Kryptonite. On paper, there’s little other way to look at it.
Since a loss to Dominick Cruz in a WEC bantamweight title fight in November 2010, Benavidez has gone 13-2. And those two losses both came at the hands of Johnson, the UFC’s flyweight champion, in 125-pound title fights. (For what it’s worth, Cruz was Benavidez’s bantamweight Kryptonite on paper – his only other two pro losses came to him in the WEC.)
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Three years ago, Benavidez was knocked out in the first round by Johnson – the only time he’s been stopped. Since then, the 32-year-old Benavidez has six straight wins, and four of them are against fighters who also have lost title shots against the champ.
So despite being 0-2 against Johnson, Benavidez said this past week in Sacramento, Calif., at UFC on FOX 22 that he doesn’t think the UFC has much choice but to give him one more chance to topple the long-reigning 125-pound kingpin and top pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
“I would assume the only thing that could be next is another match with ‘Mighty Mouse,’ which I want,” Benavidez said. “That’s all I want. That’s kind of what would complete me, in a way. That’s kind of all I really want or need, and I think that’s really the only option. So I guess the only thing I’m waiting for is when it’s going to happen.”
Johnson, No. 1 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings, as well as No. 1 on the pound-for-pound list, is coming off a win over Tim Elliott, who won Season 24 of “The Ultimate Fighter” to earn his shot at the belt. On the same night at the TUF 24 Finale in Las Vegas, No. 2 Benavidez took a split decision from No. 3 Henry Cejudo, who was trying to rebound from a submission loss to “Mighty Mouse” earlier this year.
In essence, Johnson has cleared out most of the 125-pound weight class. A fight against Wilson Reis didn’t happen earlier this year after Johnson got injured. And No. 5 Jussier Formiga fights honorable mention Sergio Pettis in January. But it very well could be Benavidez who is next in line since six-fight winning streaks are hard to ignore.
Benavidez knows one thing, though. If he were to drop to 0-3 against the champ, he can pretty much kiss a fourth fight goodbye. If he beats him to win the title, though, he knows a rematch would be a certainty.
“If I beat him, we’d have another fight – and I truly believe I can,” Benavidez said. “But if I lose three to somebody, yeah – I’m not going to fight him again. With Demetrious, it’s not necessarily about the wins and losses. I’m comfortable losing – it happens. You can’t control your loss or your win. You can do everything to control it, but you can only control yourself. You can’t control what the other guy is doing. You can just go out and try to fight your best. With both the Demetrious fights, even when I lost, I didn’t feel like I was done and I fought my best or performed my best.
“… I want to fight Demetrious and feel like, ‘Hey, he beat me when I fought my best.’ And I don’t think he’s done that yet, and I haven’t, either, on my part. That’s really what it’s about.”