Joseph Benavidez on fate of UFC flyweight division: 'It's not over until it's over'

LAS VEGAS – When Joseph Benavidez heard that his rematch against Jussier Formiga at UFC on ESPN 4 will be a No. 1 contender’s bout in the flyweight division, he felt an initial wave of relief.

“That makes me feel good, but it’s like that initial fix of, like, ‘oh cool,’” Benavidez told MMA Junkie on Thursday at the UFC Performance Institute. “Like, that’s right now, I’m fighting for a No. 1 contender fight, a title fight might be after it.”

The flyweight division has been in a state of flux over the past half-year or so, as rumors of the division’s imminent demise abound. Longtime former champion Demetrious Johnson was traded to ONE Championship, and flyweight champion Henry Cejudo will fight Marlon Moraes for the vacant bantamweight title at UFC 238 on June 8 in Chicago.

So while the idea Benavidez might get a title shot provided short-term satisfaction, he still wonders how things could play out in the long run.

“Even if there is a title fight, which I think there will be, I mean, if Henry loses, he’s still going to be like ‘I’m the ’25 champ, you’re not getting rid of me,’ he has to defend it,” Benavidez said. “But then, I kind of look at the state of the rest of the division, like, it’s getting set up for failure and being dissolved, because, there’s no one to defend it with after that. Me and Formiga are up there; who am I going to defend it against after that? Me and Formiga are out there as the No. 1 contenders to fight Henry, but Henry wins, I win, who are we going to fight after that, each other?”

Indeed, there has been a variety of quality fighters who have either stayed in the company and gone up to 135, or are gone from the company, like Justin Scoggins.

This feeds the notion that while the immediate future seems secure, the storm clouds remain in the long-term forecast.

“I know some other guys that were just called and were like ‘hey, you’re a ’35-pounder now,’” Benavidez said. “And they were just so happy to not get cut that they were just like ‘OK, I’ll do it,’ so that’s what it looks like. It’s clear as day, like, everything is getting dissolved, but it’s not over until it’s over. I’m sure everything is almost dead until it’s not. We’re doing everything we can to revive it but it definitely doesn’t look good.”

In the meantime, Benavidez is trying to stay optimistic. After all, this a fighter who has thrived in Zuffa since making his debut in the WEC in 2008, and he has a chance to claim a second win over Formiga, whom he beat via first-round KO in 2013.

After their June 29 bout in Minneapolis, who knows?

“It looks like there will hopefully be another title shot, and hopefully that will cause another influx, guys who went to 135 could go down back and resign the guys or something,” Benavidez said. “But it looks like the plan is in place.”

For more from Benavidez, click on the video above.

For more on UFC on ESPN 4, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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