Benavidez ready and focused for McCall

In Their Own Words: Joseph Benavidez

Benavidez ready and focused for McCall
February 1, 2013, 3:00 pm
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Joseph Benavidez (pictured) takes on Ian McCall Saturday night at UFC 156. Both were part of the flyweight tournament in 2012 that helped determine a champion. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

Nitesh Dutt

Editor’s Note: UFC 156 takes place on Saturday, February 2 and begins at 7 PM on Pay-Per-View.

It’s been a silent beginning to the year for Northern California fighters, but things are steadily heating up. There have been several MMA events in 2013, but none have been as anticipated UFC 156.

The UFC’s annual Super Bowl weekend event is headlined by a superfight between UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo and former UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar. Edgar, who lost his last two bouts at lightweight, is dropping down to 145lbs and challenging Aldo for the title. The main event is a highly-anticipated bout between two of the UFC’s best fighters.

Of course, a main card is only as good as its opening fight. Opening UFC 156 are two exciting flyweights looking to make a run at the 125lb title. Team Alpha Male’s Joseph Benavidez takes on Team Oyama’s Ian McCall. Both were part of the flyweight tournament in 2012 that helped determine a champion.

For Benavidez, opening a main card or headlining is a far cry from his early UFC fights. “It’s pretty awesome getting the exposure I got doing the flyweight tournament,” he said in a sit-down with Inside Fight Sports. “If you look at my first two fights as a bantamweight in the UFC I was on the under-card. I was stuck on the under-card and I was ranked #2 in the world in the weight class.”

Like a majority of all the current flyweights, McCall and Benavidez are former bantamweights who were undersized but have found a home at 125lbs. With each fighter coming off of a loss in a rather thin division, it is not out of the realm of possibility for either to get back into title contention. A win, in dominant fashion, could vault either fighter’s name into title talk.

He wouldn’t say as much, but it is clear that that was the end goal. “Any day of the year we can always make the decision to make our goals, that’s always to be a world champion.”

But don’t think that’s where his focus is. Benavidez isn’t looking past his current opponent. “Ian McCall is an awesome fighter. I’m a fan of his fighting style,” Benavidez told Inside Fight Sports. “He really likes to play to the crowd, not only with his personality but fighting style as well.”

With two exciting fighters opening up the main card, it is understandable to expect an all-out 15 minute brawl. As Benavidez puts it, that’s what he’s expecting too,

“I always prepare for the hardest 15 minutes of my life. That’s what I always have to mentally prepare for. That’s what I got to expect,” yet, that’s not Benavidez' plan. “Through expecting that and working hard I’m always hoping for a finish or a knockout.”

Nitesh Dutt is a Production Assistant at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @NiteshDutt.