Flyweight veteran Joseph Benavidez has urged his rival Henry Cejudo to leave his rivalry with TJ Dillashaw in the past in order to help his division grow.
Benavidez proved once again why he is one of the greatest MMA fighters around to have never held UFC gold – increasing his win-streak to two at UFC Brooklyn last weekend by defeating Dustin Ortiz.
In his seventeen-fight UFC career to date, only Demetrious Johnson and Sergio Pettis gave been able to defeat him and back in December of 2016 – he handed the reigning flyweight champion Henry Cejudo his most recent loss.
Speaking in a recent interview with FloCombat, the two-time flyweight title challenger have insight into the current state of his rivalry with Cejudo.
“I gained so much respect for him after that obviously. We’re not going to go bowling together—we’re not friends—but I have so much respect for him.
“It’s not about me and you right now fighting for a title, but there are thousands of kids out there dreaming of being a flyweight champion of the world and now we have a chance to keep this division moving forward.
Benavidez, of course, holds a very close and contentious decision win over Cejudo after their stint as rival coaches on The Ultimate Fighter and would certainly benefit from the champ deciding to stick around.
Following on from his victory over Ortiz at UFC Brooklyn on Saturday – Benavidez is most certainly the division’s top contender and given the aforementioned victory he earned over ‘The Messenger’ – it’s not hard to two and two together on this one.
“He’s talking about the rematch with T.J. but do you think T.J. would even think of you twice had he knocked you out — controversial or not — do you think he’d even think twice about giving you a rematch?. No. He’d move on, he wouldn’t think about the division, he already says he’d be calling for a featherweight title shot.
“He wouldn’t give you a rematch. He wouldn’t give you another shot. He didn’t have respect for you before. He’s acting like he has respect now but he already acted the way he did. He wouldn’t think about Henry again or give him a rematch.
“The only reason he is now is because he lost in 32 seconds. That would never happen. Move on, do the right thing for the division.”
It’s hard to know exactly how stable a position the flyweight division is in right now, even after their champion shocked the world but it does seem as though at the very least, some time has been bought for the 125lb-r’s as their long-term future remains unclear.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena