Exclusive interview with one of the top bantamweights in the world
Joseph Benavidez is one of the more interesting characters in mixed martial arts. He’s also one of the best fighters in the world, generally ranking as the second best bantamweight in the sport behind UFC champion Dominick Cruz.
He’s an accomplished author. We published his Complete Living, Breathing Guide to Joe-Jitsu on Christmas Eve, and the reaction from MMA fans was overwhelming. As you’ll see below, the reaction has been strong enough that Benavidez is looking into creating a line of Joe-Jitsu merchandise.
On top of that, Benavidez is always an interesting interview. So many fighters give rehearsed answers to questions from the media. It’s understandable; they hear the same questions so many times that it eventually becomes impossible to come up with anything creative. Benavidez never gives a pat answer, though, and it’s rare to find two of his interviews that are the same.
I had a chance to sit down with Benavidez shortly before he boarded his plane to head to Newark for his UFC 128 fight against Ian Loveland. In this far-reaching interview, we discuss the success and possible evolution of Joe-Jitsu, his decision to use a new nickname for every fight, his disappointment in being relegated to the UFC 128 undercard, where he stands in the current UFC bantamweight division and much more.
Heavy.com: People have probably asked you if there is any extra pressure on your shoulders going into the UFC. What I want to know is if there’s any extra pressure on your shoulders with Akiyama off the card, because now you’re responsible for the sexiness of the entire show.
Joseph Benavidez: Yeah, that’s actually the biggest pressure. I didn’t know it was going to happen, but now that Akiyama is off the card, I guess I do feel the pressure to hold down the sexiness for the card. I have to be extra sexy. Sexyama is gone and I know there’s gonna be a hole out there where the sexiness used to be, and I’m just looking to fill that hole.
Heavy: That could sound vaguely sexual.
Heavy: Have you gotten any extra recognition since we published the complete guide to Joe-Jitsu?
Benavidez: Oh yeah, I’ve definitely gotten a great reception from the fans about Joe-Jitsu. A lot of people are calling me Lord Joseph and saying they want their tie-die belt or this belt and that belt. They’re asking me how to get it. I want to thank you guys for doing that, because it was pretty awesome. There is still more Joe-Jitsu to come. It’s always evolving. We’re looking to make some testimonials from people who have had their lives changed by it. And I’m always going in the cage to prove that Joe-Jitsus is the most devastating art in the business.
Heavy: It’s funny that you mentioned the evolving nature of Joe-Jitsu. Gracie jiu-jitsu has evolved by leaps and bounds since the first UFC event. What does the future hold for Joe-Jitsu? What are we going to see from Joe-Jitsu fifteen years from now?
Benavidez: Fifteen years from now? That’s tough. Like I said, it’s just always evolving. The thing about Joe-Jitsu is that it’s not just going to evolve in the martial arts or the disciplines. It’s going to evolve outside. For example, we have a lot of life skills in there, but we might add even more. We might up the ante where you can’t just be mediocre at things – you’ll have to be pretty good. And we’re still trying to turn our prettyhardtoholdontoness into reallyhardtoholdontoness. Right now, I’m just prettyhardtoholdonto. People have done it. Dominick Cruz did it, Waggney did it for a little bit and people do it in practice. But fifteen years from now I’m hoping to be reallyhardtoholdonto.
Heavy: Is there any movement on getting some Joe-Jitsu merchandise ready for the fans to buy? Perhaps a Form-sponsored Joe-Jitsu line?
Benavidez: I’m definitely looking to do shirts that everybody can get. I obviously have my own shirts and stuff through Form, so it might be something different. I was working on ways to sell them, but then this fight came up and I started concentrating on that. But I definitely want to get some Joe-Jitsu shirts out there. And now that I have a different nickname for every fight, I’d like to make a shirt for every occasion. But like I said, there will be Joe-Jitsu shirts. This isn’t the end of it. I’m always out there representing it. Proving it as the most devastating art in the world.