Benavidez Seeks "Bang" For WEC Final Act

“I would love to submit him since he’s supposed to be a grappler and that would be a great feather in my hat, to submit another black belt.”
Miguel Torres. Rani Yahya. Jeff Curran. Three prodigious, widely-respected Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts, and also three men whom Joseph Benavidez has defeated in the cage. Those big-name triumphs help explain why the explosive bantamweight is feeling especially frisky before Thursday’s battle with 14-2 veteran Wagnney Fabiano. In fact, in a sport where top fighters commonly craft gameplans to exploit their opponents’ weaknesses, Benavidez (12-2) claims he’s not afraid to attack Fabiano where he’s strongest.

“I would love to submit him since he’s supposed to be a grappler and that would be a great feather in my hat, to submit another black belt,” Benavidez said. “I’ve fought Rani Yahya, Jeff Curran and Miguel Torres, and they’re all black belts, and I’ve had great fights against all of them. A lot of people think I will go out there and try to wrestle him and grind out a decision. But it would be great to submit him.”

The black belt slayer has finished 10 foes, seven by submission. He holds the distinction of being the only man to submit Miguel Torres in an MMA fight, a guillotine choke set into motion by a wicked elbow that created a monstrous gash on Torres’ forehead, causing a downpour of blood that temporarily blinded the former world champion and obstructed his breathing.

Fabiano, a former International Fight League champion, received his black belt from Andre Pederneiras, the renowned BJJ instructor who also (rather quietly it seems) happens to be one of the world’s pre-eminent MMA instructors. This is the same Andre Pederneiras who awarded B.J. Penn his black belt a decade ago, the same Andre Pederneiras who produced seven-time BJJ world champion Robson Moura (one of the great jiu-jitsu technicians of our day), the same Andre Pederneiras who has produced WEC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, superstar-in-grooming Renan Barao (23-1) and a sizable stable of hungry, talented Brazilian lightweights who could half-way fill a UFC fight card if they had to. Fabiano, a native Brazilian who now lives in Toronto, journeyed to his motherland for the final six weeks of his camp to train alongside Aldo and the outstanding cast of others.

“I know he’s not going to have the training camp that I’m going to have,” Fabiano said. “But it’s a big honor to fight him. He’s a big challenge. If I beat him then maybe I’ll have an opportunity for a title shot and that’s my goal, to become champ.”

Benavidez knows what it’s like to compete for the WEC hardware. The short and stocky 26-year-old fought 135-pound kingpin Dominick Cruz in August, waging a spirited five-round campaign against the champ before losing a split decision. The elusive Cruz is the only man to beat Benavidez, and has done so twice. And while it’s tempting to presume that perhaps Benavidez emerged from the championship defeat a bit heart-broken, he indicated that his performance actually bolstered his confidence and ignited his passion to return to the cage as quickly as possible. That’s why, when Brian Bowles suffered an injury, Benavidez jumped at the chance to replace him on the WEC 52 card despite only five weeks’ notice.

“Against Dominick Cruz, I went out there for five rounds, with a world championship on the line, and lost a split decision to the best guy in the world. For five rounds,” Benavidez said. “It was just a matter of inches, otherwise I would be the world champion right now. That made me mature a lot and gain a ton of confidence. I was in there for five rounds against a crazy standup guy like Dominick Cruz. Now I’m going against a slower, less dynamic standup guy in Wagnney Fabiano. So that definitely gives me confidence.

“Wagnney’s standup is not bad, it’s actually really technical and powerful. He’s just a slow fighter; he’s not very speedy and that’s where I will have an advantage. He uses his standup to get you to the ground. I’m definitely looking to exploit him on the feet, but I feel like I can grapple with black belts and I feel 100 percent confident being on top of anybody … his main game is holding someone down but I’m like a greased pig out there and I’m not letting anyone hold me down.”

While Benavidez won a high school wrestling state title in New Mexico, Fabiano, one of the more muscularly shredded fighters at 135, is also known for his well-timed takedowns and smothering acumen. A featherweight for much of his career, the Brazilian decided to drop a weight class after Mackens Semerzier submitted him with a triangle choke, generating one of 2009’s most memorable upsets. It marked the first and only time Fabiano has been finished in his 10-year career, though he is 2-0 since the move south. 

 “My ground is the strongest part of my game but I’m ready to stand and exchange with him if I have to,” said Fabiano, who owns two TKO wins. “But I’ll come with my surprises.”

Benavidez, who will be fighting on Thursday’s main card along with fellow Team Alpha Male products Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes, was asked if he considers Fabiano to be an elite fighter. His response proved interesting.

“He was the crème of the crop, the IFL champ, before he came to the WEC,” Benavidez said. “He was doing really good at 145 … and then I heard a lot of things about his loss to Mackens, that he wasn’t really into it. I think he was ranked Top 3 in the world at 145 at one time, but since he’s dropped down to this weight, I don’t think he’s faced an elite bantamweight, so this is kind of to see if he’s elite or not. I’ve fought a lot of elite guys. I’m looking to show that I am the best of the best and that he’s not. I think cardio and speed will play a big factor and I might be able to catch him in a submission or a knockout.”

Benavidez speaks for a lot of WEC fighters when he says that the organization’s looming merger with the UFC (its Zuffa brethren) is “huge,” but conceded he’s going to miss the little-guy brand that raised his profile.

“It’s kind of sad to see the WEC go because it’s been a huge part of my life, it’s changed my life,” he said. “I’ll always look back and be proud to say ‘I was part of that and it’s something historic.’ This happens in a lot of major sports, when leagues merge, and it’s cool to be a part of that. This is my last WEC fight and so I’m looking to fight my tail off for the organization and go out with a bang.”

일요일, 5월 8
Rotterdam, Netherlands


TUF 23 시즌 피날레 대회가 UFC 200 대회가 열리는 주에 함께 열린다. TUF 23 시즌은 요안나 옌제이치크 및 클라우디아 가델랴가 코치로 출연했으며, 피날레 대회에서 2명의 코치는 스트로급 타이틀을 놓고 맞붙는다. 대회는 7월 8일 폭스스포츠 1 채널에서 폭스스포츠 1 채널에서 열린다. 티켓은 금요일부터 판매된다.
2016. 4. 29
화려한 선수진, 흥미진진한 대진을 앞세운 UFC 198 대회, 브라질 출신의 전설급 선수들이 고국에서 개최되는 이번 대회에 출전한다. 메인이벤트는 파브리시오 베우둠-스티페 미오치치 헤비급 타이틀 전이다. 대회는 5월 14일 PPV 방식으로 중계된다.
2016. 4. 29
UFC 200 대회에서 다니엘 코미어-존 존스 2차전이 펼쳐진다. 라이트헤비급 통합타이틀전이다. 7월 9일 UFC 200 대회에 코미어-존스 대결을 포함 3개 타이틀 매치가 예정되어 있다. 티켓 절찬 판매 중.
2016. 4. 29
UFC 198 브라질 대회에서 파브리시오 베두움 vs. 스티페 미오치치 헤비급 타이틀전이 열린다. 대회 대진은 고국 브라질로 돌아와 경기를 펼치는 브라질 선수들로 가득차있다. 앤더슨 실바, 크리스 사이보그, 비토 벨포트 등의 선수가 출전한다. 대회는 5월 14일 열린다.
2016. 4. 23