The future of the flyweight division has been in question from the moment Demetrious Johnson was traded to ONE Championship for Ben Askren. Many, including flyweight title challenger at UFC 233 T.J. Dillashaw, believe that the flyweight division is on borrowed time. Joseph Benavidez, who will be sharing the Octagon with Alex Perez this Friday at the TUF 28 Finale, is not one of them.
“The flyweight division is honestly more exciting than ever,” Benavidez told MMAjunkie. “The division is really brand new, and it hasn’t seemed brand new. It seemed like it has such a long history with DJ’s title reign, but we’ve had one champion. It’s a young, young division. We’re on our second champion, and I think we let this thing breathe a little bit, and stars are going to keep coming out – fights, matchups.
“It reminds me of the 185-pound weight class for a while, where Anderson Silva was so dominant that the fights at the end were just like, ‘Why is this happening?’ He had just some weird fights, and you’re like, ‘Well, he has to fight these guys because he hasn’t,’ and it made the division look stale because the champion was so dominant. When he lost to Weidman, everything opened up. Now you look at like the top eight guys, they could all be champions on one given day.”
When Joseph Benavidez was asked if he is privy to something the general public is not that gives him such high confidence in the future of the division, he answered in the negative:
“I don’t really have inside knowledge,” Benavidez admitted. “It’s confusing. That fight week (in Denver), it was really like, ‘What the heck?’ For one, my fight got pulled, and then you start hearing all these rumors that it’s gone. People are getting cut, so I’m like, ‘Is it literally gone?’ Then, a few weeks later, they make the title fight. But even then, they were still telling me that I’m fighting at flyweight here and not really giving me much. Then they make the title fight at flyweight, so I’m like, ‘Oh, there’s still life. There’s still flyweight fights being done.’
“They stopped cutting people, so I didn’t really know what to think, but as far as mindset goes, the way I look at it – obviously nothing is certain – to me, it’s business as usual. I act like it’s a rumor, because it’s a rumor; that’s all it is. There’s always rumors about this, rumors about that, so I look at it like business as usual. What I have to do is beat Alex Perez. I have a fight at flyweight. That’s all that matters.”
Do you believe Joseph Benavidez should be this optimistic about the future of the flyweight division?