Joseph Benavidez was at the Xyience Xen Art event in Vegas this past weekend and spoke to MMA Fight Corner about fighting for the UFC’s first ever flyweight title. Originally, he came into town to be with teammate Danny Castillo for his fight at UFC 151 against Michael Johnson, but as we know, that was cancelled. But Benavidez decided to come to Vegas anyway to train for his upcoming fight with Demetrious Johnson on September 22nd at UFC 152 for the first ever UFC Flyweight Championship.
The UFC 151 fallout has been far reaching, also affecting UFC 152’s lineup. Initially, Benavidez vs Demetrious Johnson would have been the main event in Toronto, Canada. However, Jon Jones vs Vitor Belfort became the main event on the card, moving Benavidez-Johnson to the co-main event. A middleweight bout between Brian Stann and Michael Bisping was to be the co-main event but was bumped to the 3rd fight on the main card.
Regardless of the where his fight was shuffled to on the card, Benavidez is hyped up to get his shot at making history and be the first to hold the title.
“I can’t even express how excited I am. Not a moment goes by that I’m not thinking about the fight, this has been my goal for so long to be a UFC champion. That’s where everyone in the sport definitely wants to be, that’s everyone’s goal. Just the fact that it’s coming this close, it’s so exciting. It’s a great opportunity. The new division allows me to be the first ever, so you know that only happens one time.”
Though it doesn’t seem anything will stand in his way to achieve his ultimate goal, Benavidez revealed that when he was in Toronto to promote his fight, he and Demetrious went out together and enjoyed a concert. So, is there a budding “bromance”?
“Oh yeah, Demetrious is cool. Let’s just stop beating around the bush here and just get it out there – me and Demetrious Johnson went to a Coldplay concert together. We sat next to each other. Michael Bisping was there with his boyfriend Tiki also, and it was a nice little double date. They gave us free tickets we got to go see the concert. I’m not embarassed about it whatsoever. Coldplay was an amazing show. It was just kinda weird sitting there with the guy I’m gonna fight listening to Coldplay. It almost got you pumped up cause you saw the crowd so excited over this concert. Just to think in a few months they’re going to be excited for us fighting. So, I just looked at him and imagined punching him and grabbing him and stuff, but it was a cool experience.”
Ultimately, Benavidez said nothing will stand in his way on his path to becoming the first to hold the flyweight belt in an all new weight class. Main event or not and personal feelings for Demetrious aside, he’s only focused on winning. “It’s funny. Everyone’s all asking me like ‘Oh, aren’t you pissed you’re not the co-main event,’ I’m just like, I’m still getting the UFC title that’s the main. My main goal wasn’t to be a UFC main event, it was to be a UFC champion. You guys should all ask Bisping how he feels, like, the co-main event was so coveted to him and now he’s bumped down to the 3rd fight, so he’s got to be really hurting.”
As far as how Jon Jones’ decision to not take a fight on 8 days notice subsequently causing the UFC 151 to be axed altogether has affected him, Benavidez told MMA Fight Corner earlier in the week that he’s not allowing anything to disrupt his path to wearing a strap. “My eyes are on the prize, the belt’s not changed, it’s not like [Jon Jones] took the belt away from me. That’s my goal, and I still get to do that, and now I get to do it with more people watching, more fans to gain and I think everything’s really a bonus out of it.”
Jon Jones vs Vitor Belfort for the UFC light heavyweight title will be the main event at UFC 152. Benavidez vs Johnson will be the co-main event for the UFC flyweight title. The fight card will be held in the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada on September 22nd.