Third Time’s the Charm

On Saturday night, at the age of 35, Joseph Benavidez will make his third — and likely final — shot at Ultimate Fighting Championship gold when he steps into the Octagon against Brazilian marauder Deiveson Figueiredo for the vacant flyweight belt.

It has been over six years since the former screen printer last competed in a UFC title fight, with his last tilt lasting only 128 seconds courtesy of Demetrius Johnson’s right hand at UFC on Fox 9. Eighteen months prior, he fell to Johnson via razor close split decision at UFC 152, which resulted in “Mighty Mouse” and not “Joey B” becoming the company’s first-ever flyweight champion. Johnson would go on to have unprecedented success as a champion, dutifully defending the mantle 11 times before eventually losing to Henry Cejudo and defecting to One Championship.

Since dropping down from bantamweight eight years ago, Benavidez’s only missteps have been against Johnson and a contentious split decision loss to Sergio Pettis in 2018, mounting a 13-3 record over eight years and solidifying himself as something of a permanent No. 1 contender at 125. Amongst Benavidez’s conquests are wins over three men who fought Johnson for the flyweight title (Ali Bugautinov, John Moraga and Tim Elliott) and the one who eventually usurped the throne in Cejudo.

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