MMA Fighter Hopes Choking Celebrity Leads to UFC Title

Joseph Benavidez

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UFC flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez revealed to Heavy his appearance on Tuesday’s “LIVE With Kelly and Ryan” show has already helped make this fight week experience like no other before it.

Benavidez, 35, from San Antonio, Texas, went on the show to promote his upcoming battle against Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC Fight Night 169 in Norfolk, Va., for the vacant UFC flyweight championship. The clip has gone viral in the MMA community thanks to Benavidez putting Ryan Seacrest in a guillotine choke as part of a demonstration until Seacrest tapped out.

“Literally, right after I went on there, the lady that was checking me in at the airport was like ‘Oh my god! I saw you on the television today!'” Benavidez said. “I was just like, ‘No way!'”

Benavidez told Heavy going on the show was the perfect way to start his journey this week toward capturing UFC gold.

“It’s just colossal,” Benavidez said. “That was the start of my fight week and things like that fill me with gratitude for the journey that I’m on. It was a good way to start this journey, which is how I look at every fight week and have for my whole career.”


Benavidez’s Longer Journey Toward UFC Title Nearing End?

Benavidez’s even longer journey toward becoming a champion has taken some twists and turns over the years. His upcoming battle against Figueiredo will be the fighter’s fourth chance at winning a major championship, and his third try at winning the UFC flyweight title.

Benavidez lost via split decision to Dominick Cruz for the WEC bantamweight title back in 2009. After moving over to the UFC when the company introduced the flyweight division in 2011, Benavidez battled his way to facing Demetrius Johnson for the inaugural 125-pound belt only to suffer another split-decision setback.

Fifteen months later, Benavidez again faced Johnson only to be stopped in the first round.

But now Benavidez has his sights set on Figueiredo. Two 125-pound stalwarts will be locking horns this weekend for the flyweight title vacated by UFC bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo.

But Benavidez said the third time will be the charm for him this time around, or maybe the fourth time if you consider his WEC title challenge.


Submitting Seacrest Not Benavidez’s Idea

The tough Texan said submitting Seacrest via guillotine choke wasn’t his idea. He just offered that technique as an option when asked what he could show the audience that might also play well to those watching at home.

“The producers wanted me to show something, so we thought it was a good one for me to do on TV.”

But he was happy to do it, because Benavidez knows experiences like that are as rare as UFC title opportunities. Despite going 9-1 over his last 10 fights, Benavidez hasn’t competed for the title since 2013. Regardless, Benavidez sees this weekend’s title fight as just another thing for which he can be grateful and a fitting end to an amazing week that started with him appearing on national television.

“That was an amazing experience,” Benavidez said. “I actually was just watching a clip of it right now. It’s surreal honestly to be on there. My wife and I watch the show every morning when we wake up. To be on it was amazing. They were the kindest people ever.”

READ NEXT: Champ Blasts Conor McGregor for Ducking Tough Challenges


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