Coming off his loss to Demetrious Johnson in the first UFC flyweight title bout, Joseph Benavidez will be looking to make a statement Saturday against Ian McCall at UFC 156.
“He might not be super consistent from fight to fight, but he always puts on a show and he’s dangerous,” Benavidez said of McCall during an interview on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Cheap Seats” show. “He is powerful strength-wise, but I don’t look at him necessarily as a dangerous, finishing type. He’s just really powerful, strong, explosive. He’s a great athlete with a great style, and I think it’s going to be an awesome fight. I’m looking to go in there and make my statement. This is like a small battle for me. Him and Demetrious had a super close fight, so I’m looking to beat him way worse.”
Johnson fought McCall to a majority draw and then beat him via unanimous decision in the rematch. “Mighty Mouse” then went on to claim a split decision over Benavidez in September to become the 125-pound champion.
“It was definitely hard,” Benavidez said of his defeat. “Just mentally, that was just my goal for so long and I had no doubts that I was going to take it. Just the realization afterwards that that opportunity passed me by and it didn’t happen was really hard to take for a long time.”
Eventually, though, Benavidez was able to put the loss in perspective and also learn from it.
“There’s things you’re going to learn technically and kind of where he beat me with strategy and just his takedowns and everything,” he said. “He’s a great fighter. I fought the best guy in the world at my weight class. I don’t think I had a great performance, and he fought a perfect fight. I need to not be so hard on myself and realize it was a close fight and I’m just lucky that I get to do this. It’s always times like this where I find myself maybe complaining or being down on myself about this, but then I realize how lucky I am that this is my life and I’m one of two people ever that got to fight for this inaugural flyweight title.”
Now Benavidez has the chance to bounce back against another high-caliber flyweight, and he likes the matchup.
“I like McCall,” Benavidez said. “I’m a fan of his style. He’s crazy and I respect that. He puts it all on the line and puts it all out there. … He’s a guy that’s actually going to fight me. He has confidence in his skills, in his power and he doesn’t run. He goes in there and looks for a fight and doesn’t mind getting punched in the face. He doesn’t mind it, so I’m just going to go ahead and just give him the punishment that he likes.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 29:19).