UFC's Joseph Benavidez on initial pain, isolation, helplessness of injury recovery: 'I cried every day'


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Scrolling through Joseph Benavidez’s Instagram account, you’ll see a few things: pictures of him with wife Megan Olivi, snapshots of movies, and cute selfies with their dog, Benny.

What you won’t see are too many pictures of his recovering knee.

That doesn’t mean that the two-time UFC flyweight title challenger isn’t going to the UFC Performance Institute every day. Or that he isn’t training. Or that he isn’t powering through every rough stage of rehabilitation after surgically repairing a torn ACL.

In the more than six months that have passed since Benavidez announced that an injury had forced him out of a scheduled bout with Ben Nguyen, he’s done all those things.

We just haven’t since much of it.

“It was only me going through it, and that’s the way I thought about it,” Benavidez told MMAjunkie Radio. “Like, no one else is going to care. That’s why I’m not like, ‘Hey guys, I’ll be back soon. Check it out. I just bent my leg to 30 degrees or whatever.’ In this sport, there’s such a short memory. There’s always something happening. Someone getting injured, a fight that weekend.

“I’m just like, ‘People are not even going to know I’m injured by the time nine or 10 months comes. And I’m going to win, and I’m going to fight. So they’re not even going to remember that, anyway. So I’m not going to start with everybody else, so I’m going through it myself.’”

For those interested in updates of his recovery, though, Benavidez will gladly give them.

“It’s coming along,” Benavidez said. “You can get places faster banding and lateral and stuff. But it takes a certain amount of time for the tendons and everything to heal properly. I’m like at a six-, six-and-a-half-month mark right now. I’m training and stuff. Nothing live – anything where an injury can happen.

“Just like you would a week before a fight or something. Something you would do where you couldn’t get injured? That’s kind what I’m doing. Going through the mitts, the motions, the drills and stuff.

“I’m getting there. Hopefully shooting for a March, April return next year.”

Benavidez has been “good” for months now. But that’s after what often felt like a very slow process that had him relying heavily on others for basic things. For two months, he had to use at least one crutch. He was stuck with an ankle-to-hip cast. His wife, who’s also a host and reporter for the UFC, had to skip trips to help him.

For the first week, Benavidez had to sleep in the couch because couldn’t even go up the stairs in his home. After that, he could go up slowly, with Olivi’s help, to do basic things like taking showers.

“It was miserable, of course,” Benavidez said. “And I know Megan wouldn’t be doing anything else, but she was in there helping me shower, you know. I cried every day. On my couch, like – it was just terrible to have something taken away from you like that.

“I would cry all the time, and Megan would go down and sleep with me on the couch because I couldn’t go up the stairs. And I’d have to wake her up because I was just crying. Just breaking down and just kind of – I don’t know. It was just a long road. And then the pain and everything as well. There were times when I was crying naked with my dog on my lap.”

With time, it got better. Eventually, Benavidez could walk. Then he could drive. And now, possibly three or four months away from an octagon return, the flyweight is looking ahead to what’s currently an interesting division.

Since Benavidez had to withdraw from his UFC Fight Night 110 meeting with Nguyen, 125-pound kingpin Demetrious Johnson has cruised past yet another challenger at UFC 216, pulling off a crazy submission win over Ray Borg to break Anderson Silva’s previous record of 10 consecutive title defenses.

Benavidez, who’s suffered two losses to Johnson in the past, has made no secret of his desire for a third stab at the belt. And, considering he’s coming off six straight victories, the No. 2 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings isn’t exactly crazy to feel that way.

If it does come to fruition, however, that shot might involve peculiar circumstances. While nothing’s been officially announced, there’s a strong push to make Johnson’s (27-2-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC) next fight against bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) – a matchup that Benavidez thinks is “awesome.”

The specifics of that are also up in the air. Would it be at flyweight? Bantamweight? Somewhere in between? But if it ends up being Dillashaw going down to the 125-pound division, and becoming a two-division champ in the process, that could lead to Benavidez going up against a former Team Alpha Male stablemate and friend.

When talks of a Johnson-Dillashaw fight first started, Benavidez figured he’d have time to see the whole thing unfold. But Johnson had other plans. And Benavidez was always aware, as small as it was, as much as he knew both ex-teammates would tried to get around it, of the possibility of fighting Dillashaw.

Now that it seems more real than never?

“I’ll fight the best guy in my weight,” Benavidez said.

To hear more from Benavidez, check out the video above.

And for more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Filed under: Featured, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2578 with Joseph Benavidez, Sean O'Malley, Austin Vanderford

Stream or download Thursday’s episode of MMAjunkie Radio with Joseph Benavidez, Sean O’Malley and Austin Vanderford.

O’Malley, coming off of a win over Terrion Ware at last weekend’s TUF 26 Finale, called in to unpack his experience from fight night. Vanderford, who faces Kenny Licea on Dec. 16 at Victory FC: 59, talked about his upcoming fight. Benavidez co-hosted the majority of the show in studio, catching us up on what’s next for him.

You can listen below or stream the entire episode on AudioBoom.com.

Filed under: News, Radio, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Joseph Benavidez (in studio), Sean O'Malley, Austin Vanderford

Filed under: News, UFC

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests Joseph Benavidez, Sean O’Malley and Austin Vanderford.

Benavidez will co-host the show in the studio. The perennial flyweight contender is nearing the end of his recovery from a serious knee injury, which has kept him sidelined all year. O’Malley is coming off a big bantamweight win over Terrion Ware this past Friday at the TUF 26 Finale in his official UFC debut. And Vanderford is getting ready to fight Kenny Licea next week at Victory FC 59.

MMAjunkie Radio airs from 1 to 3 p.m. ET (10 a.m. to noon PT), live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. You can watch and listen live on MMAjunkie’s Facebook and YouTubepages. Additionally, SiriusXM Rush (Ch. 93) carries a replay later in the day (8-10 p.m. ET) and the following morning (7-9 a.m. ET), or catch a replay on demand.

MMAjunkie Radio listener guide:

  • HOW TO WATCH (ON WEB): Watch a live stream on MMAjunkie’s Facebook or YouTube pages.
  • HOW TO CALL: MMAjunkie Radio takes phone calls from listeners throughout the show. Call into the MMAjunkie Radio hotline at (866) 522-2846.
  • HOW TO DISCUSS: The MMAjunkie MMA Forums has a section devoted solely to MMAjunkie Radio. Stop by the MMAjunkie Radio forum to discuss the show, interact with the hosts, suggest future guests and catch up on the latest MMAjunkie Radio news.
  • HOW TO VISIT THE SHOW: You can watch MMAjunkie Radio live and in person at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The booth is located in the resort’s Race & Sports Book next to the Mandalay Bay poker room. To plan a trip to Sin City and MMAjunkie Radio, go to www.mandalaybay.com.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Yokota Air Base personnel in Japan motivated by recent visit from UFC fighters


Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC

When the UFC hits the road, more often than not part of the fight week schedule includes some community outreach.

That was true 10 days ago when the promotion headed to Japan for UFC Fight Night 117. Ahead of the event, several fighters and personalities, including Hall of Famer Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and two-time flyweight title challenger Joseph Benavidez, paid a visit to U.S. military members at Yokota Air Base west of Tokyo.

Col. Kenneth Moss, the 374th Airlift Wing Commander at Yokota Air Base, said visits like that help inspire his forces.

“We’re out here 12 hours away or so from everything that we love in America, and all the people that we love,” Moss told MMAjunkie. “It’s great when America comes to visit us. You cannot imagine the morale boost it is when people see in real life, in the flesh, the people they’ve been rooting for on TV and their heroes. So getting the opportunity to spend time with them and seeing that the people back home still care and remember about everybody who’s forward – it’s fantastic. We’ll ride a little mission improvement here for a few more days, minimum.”

Check out the video above for an inside look at the UFC’s visit to Yokota Air Base.

And for more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Title shot? Sure, but Ben Nguyen also happy to welcome T.J. Dillashaw to flyweight

Filed under: Featured Videos, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

A quick win over a former title challenger has opened up an array of possibilities for Ben Nguyen, but in the complicated flyweight division, it’s hard to pinpoint what’s next.

Nguyen walked into his recent UFC Fight Night 110 flyweight bout with “The Ultimate Fighter 24” winner Tim Elliott an underdog, but he walked away with a 49-second submission win and a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus. Life, Nguyen will understandably tell you, is good.

But as bright as Nguyen’s octagon future looks, it’s also up in the air. With flyweight kingpin Demetrious Johnson currently engaged in a public battle with the UFC, the next challenger undefined, and the division’s existence possibly endangered, he has a few scenarios ahead of him.

First, of course, is the ideal one: becoming the 125-pound division’s next title challenger.

“I’ve been doing some reading online, and a lot of people have been speculating and talking,” Nguyen told MMAjunkie Radio. “And people are saying, ‘Ben defeated Tim Elliott, the guy who went the distance with the champ and gave him a pretty tough time. So maybe Ben should have the next shot.’ Especially with all this stupid drama going on with (T.J. Dillashaw) coming down to flyweight, and (UFC President Dana White) threatening to shut down the division.

“Maybe they should just have me jump in. I’ve got the momentum. I’ve got the style. I’ve just beat one of the top guys. So, maybe I’m not too far off. If it was offered to me, obviously I’d have to take it. It makes me really excited, like I could be fighting the champ next.”

While we’ve seen stranger things happen, a title shot doesn’t seem like the most realistic scenario for Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC), currently ranked No. 5 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings. After all, two other possible challengers have been in the forefront of the public dispute all along.

First, there’s No. 5 ranked flyweight Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), whom the champ had accepted to face before things escalated. And then there’s ex-135-pound champ Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) – whom the promotion has been pushing to get a shot at Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) in what would be the ex-bantamweight titleholder’s first 125-pound outing.

If it helps clear out the situation, Nguyen would also be happy to meet either of the two in a title-eliminator scenario. Especially considering that he agrees with both Borg and Johnson that Dillashaw must first prove he can actually perform as a flyweight before getting a chance to rule the entire division.

“That’s an option as well, fighting Borg,” Nguyen said. “Fighting T.J., I just think that would be a fun fight. I think T.J. should have a fight with someone else in the flyweight division if he wants to actually fight for the belt – just to see if he can make the weight, if he can even perform at a lower weight class. That way the belt isn’t tied up with someone who might not be able to defend it later on.”

And last but not least, there’s the one who got away: perennial contender Joseph Benavidez. The two-time title challenger was actually slated to be Nguyen’s opponent for UFC Fight Night 110, but he had to pull out a month before the fight due to an injury.

“I still want to fight Joseph Benavidez,” Nguyen said. “I still want that fight so bad. But I know he’s going to be out until next year – I think he said early next year, he’ll be ready then.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Filed under: Featured Videos, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Ben Nguyen still wants 'beatable' Joseph Benavidez after UFC Fight Night 110

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Ben Nguyen may have lost out on the most noteworthy fight of his career, but all things considered, the UFC Fight Night 110 fighter said the alternative is as good as it gets.

Nguyen (16-6 MMA, 3-1 UFC) was originally scheduled to fight Joseph Benavidez (25-4 MMA, 12-2 UFC) at Saturday’s event, but “Joe-B” was forced to withdraw due to an injury. Former title challenger Tim Elliott (14-7-1 MMA, 3-5 UFC) then stepped in as a replacement.

Benavidez has lost only to longtime flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson in the weight class and, with a six-fight winning streak, is widely regarded as the best fighter in the division outside “Mighty Mouse.” Beating Benavidez would have done wonders for Nguyen’s career, but he said Elliott provides plenty of upside.

“It was like waking up from a nightmare; I literally woke up and got the news (Benavidez was out),” Nguyen told MMAjunkie. “I think going from Benavidez to Tim Elliott, it’s still a challenge. He’s a tough guy, and he’s a guy that’s just really determined. Getting kicked out of the UFC then coming back in the fashion he did, it shows he’s in it for a while.”

Elliott’s stock is higher than ever ahead of UFC Fight Night 110, which takes place at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, with the televised portion of the card on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

After his UFC release following three straight losses, Elliott returned to the organization in December after winning “The Ultimate Fighter 24.” The reward was an immediate title shot at Johnson. Elliott gave the champion a competitive fight but suffered a decision loss. He rebounded with a “Fight of the Night” victory over Louis Smolka (the only fighter to beat Nguyen in the UFC) at UFC on FOX 24 in April.

Elliott’s unorthodox style makes him one of the most difficult competitors in to prepare for and fight, especially since Nguyen for the matchup on just 32 days’ notice.

“The tricky part was trying to figure him out,” Nguyen said. “If you look at it really closely, his main strength is grappling and ground and pound. He’s really squirmy on the ground. We’re going to try to avoid that as best we can and keep it standing. There’s always that opportunity for takedowns. I just have to feel it out when I get in there. Preparing for him is a challenge because he’s such an awkward fighter.”

Beating Elliott, No. 15 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings, would give Nguyen four victories in five UFC appearances. It’s clear UFC matchmakers hold him in high regard after booking him against Benavidez, and Nguyen said he still wants the matchup. Benavidez could be out of action for an extended period after suffering a torn ACL, but Nguyen said he would relish the opportunity to have it happen in the future.

“I think out of all the top people, he’s one of the most beatable,” Nguyen said. “I think he’s got a lot of holes, especially in the standup. His standup is good, but I see a couple holes here and there, and feel like we could have exploited it. He’s really well rounded, but I felt like I could beat him on the feet. I still want that fight.”

If Nguyen can beat Elliott he’d certainly be deserving of a fight with Benavidez, but he may have loftier goals. Nguyen wants a title shot, but the top of the flyweight division is in flux with champ Johnson in a very public dispute with the UFC brass about whether his next defense will come against T.J. Dillashaw or Ray Borg.

UFC officials want Johnson vs. Dillashaw, but several hurdles remain. Nguyen understands why the UFC would want to book that fight. However, he doesn’t think it’s fair to fighters like him for Dillashaw to come into the division and skip the line.

“I would be a little bit offended (with Dillashaw getting an immediate title shot), but at the same time, I think it would be a great fight,” Nguyen said. “I would love to see that fight. I think everyone would like to see that fight.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie