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Joseph Benavidez suffered yet another disappointing loss in a title bout at UFC Fight Night 172, this time in stunningly lopsided fashion to Deiveson Figueiredo in Abu Dhabi.
Unlike their first meeting in February, there was no incidental clash of heads that could have altered the course of the fight, nor did Figueiredo falter on the scales. It was simply a dominant performance from the newly-crowned champion, as he dropped Benavidez multiple times, bloodied him with elbows and choked him unconscious 4:48 into the opening stanza of Saturday’s headliner.
Now 0-4 in UFC flyweight title fights, Benavidez offered no excuses at Saturday’s post-fight press conference.
“I felt good in there,” he said. “I felt focused and present, even with no crowd. Fights go fast but I could see just little movements, felt focused. That’s the hard part. The last time was devastating because I couldn’t control it. It was out of my control. Going into this fight, I just want a fair fight. I wanted the guy to freaking make weight and I don’t want anything weird to happen. He went out there and proved he was the better guy. It’s hard. You can’t sit here and feel sorry for yourself.”
For years, Benavidez has been the consensus No. 2 flyweight in the world. First, he couldn’t get past Demetrious Johnson on two separate occasions. Now, it’s Figueiredo who is the foil he can’t surpass.
“I sit here humbled. Impressed by him,” Benavidez said. “Grateful I got the opportunity to go out there and display what I prepared for…”
Heading into his first meeting with Figueiredo, Benavidez knew his championship window was closing. His opponent’s mishap on the scale allowed him another opportunity, but the Las Cruces, New Mexico, native knows his time as a top contender has likely passed.
“I knew last fight was my last title attempt,” Benavidez said. “It wasn’t because of circumstances so this one certainly was. I wasn’t fighting in this sport from the beginning for any other reason than being the best. I’ve been close. I’ve been lucky. I’ve been in that top two or three for 11 years at two weight classes. It’s been a crazy journey. It’s been awesome.”
Despite that disappointing nature of the defeat, the 35-year-old Xtreme Couture representative has no designs on calling it a career just yet. At the very least, he wants to exit the sport with a victory.
“I’m not going out like that. Nothing’s guaranteed in this sport for sure,” he said. “But I’m not going to get another title shot and I don’t want to go out on that. I just want to go out with another fight. After that, there’s nothing else for me to do. I’m not going to beat 10 guys again. I know that was my last title shot but like I just said, I don’t want to go out on that.”