Morning Report: Joseph Benavidez asks Henry Cejudo to ‘do the right thing for the division’ and forego chasing 135-pound title

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Heading into his title defense against T.J. Dillashaw at UFC Brooklyn, Henry Cejudo insisted that the fight was more than a fight, it was about saving the entire flyweight division from extinction. But after somewhat controversially knocking Dillashaw out in 32 seconds, Cejudo immediately suggested that he rematch Dillashaw for the 135-pound title. For fighters like Joseph Benavidez, that’s not saving the flyweight division at all. It’s putting it right back on the chopping block.

Speaking with FloCombat recently, Benavidez plead with Cejudo to stick to his word and save the flyweight division by actually sticking around and defending his belt.

“I’m all about respect and I never get outside myself as far as calling people out,” Benavidez said. “I’m always going to be myself when calling someone out. I haven’t got to talk to Henry a ton since [our fight] and I don’t know if people have the idea that me and Henry are enemies. Obviously when we coached ‘Ultimate Fighter’ a lot of things were said and done but after that fight, if you watch that fight, me and Henry give each other a part of ourselves. We don’t stop hitting each other for 15 minutes.

“I gained so much respect for him after that obviously. We’re not going to go bowling together—we’re not friends—but I have so much respect for him. It’s not about me and you right now fighting for a title, but there are thousands of kids out there dreaming of being a flyweight champion of the world and now we have a chance to keep this division moving forward.”

Benavidez and Cejudo fought once before at The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale, with Benavidez taking home a split decision. It was the last time Cejudo lost, and with his win over Dustin Ortiz, Benavidez would presumably be next in line for a title fight, if Cejudo does stick around at flyweight. And though the allure of becoming a double champ simply by beating the man you just destroyed in 32 seconds is probably very enticing, Benavidez implores Cejudo to do right by the division. He even goes so far as to throw shade at his former training partner, Dillashaw, saying that if the roles were reversed, he wouldn’t have given Cejudo a rematch so Cejudo shouldn’t give T.J. one.

“He’s talking about the rematch with T.J. but do you think T.J. would even think of you twice had he knocked you out — controversial or not — do you think he’d even think twice about giving you a rematch?” Benavidez said. “No. He’d move on, he wouldn’t think about the division, he already says he’d be calling for a featherweight title shot.

“He wouldn’t give you a rematch. He wouldn’t give you another shot. He didn’t have respect for you before. He’s acting like he has respect now but he already acted the way he did. He wouldn’t think about Henry again or give him a rematch. The only reason he is now is because he lost in 32 seconds. That would never happen. Move on, do the right thing for the division.”

Of course, it’s hard to separate Benavidez’s own self-interest in all of this. The top-ranked flyweight contender has come as close as possible to winning a title without actually doing so, losing a split decision to Demetrious Johnson when they fought for the inaugural belt. After suffering a devastating KO loss to Johnson in their rematch, Benavidez has remained “in contention” without ever getting another crack at the belt. With Johnson now gone from the UFC, Benavidez would obviously love one final shot to earn the title that has eluded him for so long, and with a win over Cejudo already under his belt, he clearly feels like the title is there for the taking. It all comes down to whether Cejudo is a man of his word, says Benavidez

“I gave him 15 minutes of hell and he knows I’m going to come after him,” Benavidez said. “This time it’s going to be 25 minutes. I don’t think he’s scared of me, but he knows a fight with me is a fight with me and the other fight he has nothing to lose because he already knocked the guy out in 32 seconds. If he believes what he says, this is his chance to do it.

“If he believes in that, if you truly believe in that and you’re not just saying it, this is the only option to keep it moving forward. Give me the shot.”


Sharks. Anderson Silva talks Israel Adesanya fight, Conor McGregor, Nick Diaz, and more.

Smart. Al Iaquinta wants Conor McGregor next, says McGregor not ‘willing to die’ in cage.

135. Holly Holm prefers clash with Amanda Nunes at bantamweight, not featherweight.

Hero. Former UFC champion Fabricio Werdum rescues teen from drowning.

Rematch. Ryan Bader in favor of Lyoto Machida rematch in the future.


Gastelum lunch scrum.

Anderson Silva open workout.

Best of KSW in 2018.

LFA 57 highlights.

Mayweather Sr. talking about Floyd’s fight with Tenshin.

TTTHS.


Eurobash. Interviews with Gunnar Nelson, Tom Breese, and Corey Browning.

Mookie & Crookie. Debating whether the UFC has too many champ champs.


Bellator HW GP belt.

Cejudo responds to Conor.

Yoel Romero is on a reality TV show and it is awesome.

UFC Prague poster.

Fight.

Does anyone doubt his claim to be the best in MMA?


N/A.


Said this ages ago and it’s coming true even faster than I thought. Winning titles in multiple divisions is obviously cool, but in 15 years, we will look back on those accomplishments as significantly less impressive than putting together extended title reigns. Lots of people are gonna end up as champ champs. No one is going to challenge DJ’s win streak. And the person who does will be seen as a greater fighter than most of the people with multiple belts on their wall.

Thanks for reading, and see y’all tomorrow.


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