Following his disappointing, yet narrow split-decision loss to Dominick Cruz at WEC 50, Joseph Benavidez was looking to take some time off.
The 135lbs contender had just faced the top bantamweight on the planet, former champion Miguel Torres, and submission ace Rani Yahya all within one year. You could say he deserved a break.
However, when the WEC came calling for the Team Alpha male product to step in for former champion Brian Bowles against Wagnney Fabiano at this month’s WEC 52, Benavidez did not have to think long about cutting his time away from the cage short.
“When the fight came up with Wagnney Fabiano, it was kind of a no brainer,” Benavidez told HeavyMMA today. “I was definitely looking to fight before the end of the year. You know, definitely wanted to get in that third fight of the year. I had already taken some time off, and it’s kind of hard man. I’m just a fighter and when someone offers me a fight, it’s always something I want to do. I’m always training and it always feels like the right decision for me.”
Benavidez found the decision easy because of his passion for the sport. However, WEC 52, which is set for November 11 in Las Vegas, Nevada, has two familiar faces on the card, as fellow Team Alpha Male fighters Chad Mendes and Urijah Faber are also going to be stepping into the cage the same night.
But the Faber fighting against Takeya Mizugaki next week is a Faber no one has seen before. After an incredible career in the WEC featherweight division, “The California Kid” is dropping down to the bantamweight division for the first time in his career to join the likes of Miguel Torres, Dominick Cruz, and, yes, teammate Benavidez.
However, even though both the bantamweight Team Alpha Male fighters are two of the top bantamweights in the world at this point in time, Benavidez says the timing could not have been perfect.
“The great thing about him coming down right now is the timing,” Benavidez said. “The timing couldn’t be better right now because I just fought for the world title. I didn’t make it. Now it’s kind of like, ‘Hey, take your shot. Let’s see how good you can do.’ I’m not going to get a third fight with Dominick Cruz anytime soon unless I wipe out everyone in the division like I plan on doing. I just fought for the title. Now I’m just worried about fight-by-fight-by-fight and taking out everyone else in front of me. And Urijah can concentrate on that world title.”
Benavidez seems content to allow his teammate and mentor work for the world title while he builds his way back up the division. However, if Faber does win the championship, the question of whether or not he and Benavidez will battle for the belt is brought up. While Benavidez says the fight will almost certainly never happen, he does admit that it is not completely out of the question if the two were to be matched up in a championship tilt.
“Money talks, of course,” Benavidez said. “If we’d both make each other rich, filthy rich off it, then we would probably have to do it. If we didn’t do it, then we’d be hurting each other by taking money out of each other’s pockets. It’d have to be a lot of money and of course we’d have to talk about it and I guess just go in there like it’s any other game. But there’s a really small chance that that will ever happen.”
While Benavidez does admit that if the right money was put on the table, a bout with Faber would be possible since the big checks would simply be helping both of them out. However, Benavidez’s history with Faber would severely hinder the bout from happening. After all, he will be the first to tell you that he owes his success to Faber, who has played an intricate role in helping Benavidez become the fighter he is today.
“Honestly, I just couldn’t see myself fighting Urijah. I just wouldn’t want to. I really couldn’t,” Benavidez said. “The guy has done so much for me in my career and my life. I’d really have to wait until he retired, gave it up, or someone beat him because there’s no way I really want to go in there and hit the guy.”
“Like I said, he’s done so much for me.”
Check out the entire interview with Joseph Benavidez on the Heavy MMA Podcast.