Number one WEC bantamweight contender Joseph Benavidez is sitting on the cusp of the biggest fight of his life, the moment he has been working for his entire fight career. Not only will the Team Alpha Male member get the chance to avenge his only loss, he will get that chance coupled with a title shot. Benavidez is taking on the only man to ever defeat him, WEC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, this August 18th at WEC 50 for the WEC bantamweight title. Benavidez recently made an appearance on MMAJunkie .com Radio to discuss his upcoming title shot.
Benavidez and Cruz first met at WEC 42 and Cruz took home a close unanimous decision win over Benavidez. A teammate to WEC poster boy Urijah Faber, Benavidez chalks the loss up to inexperience in preparation.
“I was just like, ‘No, I’ll react to it,'” Benavidez said of preparing for Cruz’s unique, jerky style. “I have good instincts. It’s not going to be too hard. I’ll just do it.”
Benavidez went on to say that the cavalier attitude and personal belief that carried him through his first ten professional MMA fights are the same things that led him to underestimate Cruz.
“I always thought I was going to beat people with my athleticism,” he said. “(But) I ran into an athlete [with] Cruz. He was a little bigger, just as fast and moved just as much.”
The Texas native has said that the loss to Cruz was the best thing that could have happened to him as it shocked him out of complacency and forced him to revamp his training methods.
“I knew right after that I needed to change up some things in training,” said Benavidez. “I didn’t feel like I was preparing for these fights as well as I could, and I wasn’t using my strengths. That’s what he ended up beating me [with]. The more I watched the fight, I see he beat me in wrestling, which should be my strength. My philosophy at the time was that if someone takes me down, I could just get up, so it doesn’t matter. I could… be reckless and throw as hard as I want on the feet because I didn’t care if I got taken down, and I always figured I could take him down if I really needed to. With Cruz, I wasn’t hitting him as well as I could (have); I didn’t submit him on the ground.
“My philosophy was right. I did end up getting up every time, but that was still the deciding factor in the fight.”
Benavidez obviously did learn from his loss to Cruz as he went on from that fight to defeat Rani Yahya via TKO (punches) and former WEC bantamweight champ Miguel Torres via guillotine choke. He will have the chance to test his newfound dedication and preparation against Cruz this Wednesday night at The Pearl at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada; Cruz and Benavidez will headline WEC 50, a card that will also feature matchups between Shane Roller and Anthony Pettis, Scott Jorgenson and Brad Pickett, and Mackens Semerzier and Javier Vazquez.