Joseph Benavidez sent a strong message to flyweight champion Henry Cejudo with a second-round TKO to finish Jussier Formiga in the co-main event of UFC Minneapolis on Saturday.
Benavidez swarmed on Formiga with a barrage of punches following a head kick that rattled the Brazilian. The successive shots eventually wilted Formiga’s defense and he dropped to the mat with the fight coming to an end at 4:47 into the second round.
“I just felt great,” Benavidez said about the stoppage win. “The set ups were there. I was throwing everything with power. Once I saw him hurt on the cage, that’s when the pitbull came out.”
The action moved fast and furious throughout the opening round with Benavidez and Formiga winging huge, fight-finishing shots with every combination. Benavidez set the pace early with a couple of blistering body kicks, looking to duplicate his last win over Formiga from six years ago.
This time around, Formiga continued to fire back and nearly took Benavidez’s back during a crazy scramble but the former two-time UFC title contender was able to keep moving before working his way free.
During one exchange in the opening round Benavidez suffered a cut near his eye and that apparently woke up the beast inside of him as he was gunning for the finish every second after he was released from his corner for round two.
While Formiga tried to slow him down, Benavidez was on the attack and it was a head kick out of nowhere rocking his opponent that precipitated the end of the fight. Once Benavidez felt Formiga fading, he flurried on him with a rapid-fire series of punches until he fell to the mat.
The win puts Benavidez right back in line to face Cejudo, who he previously defeated by split decision in their first meeting back in 2016.
“They call me Joey Two-Times. I beat [Dustin] Ortiz two times. I beat Formiga two times. Next, beating Cejudo two times,” Benavidez said. “Ton of respect for that guy. He’s calling out a lot of fights that don’t make sense.
“He knows I’m the hardest one out there. He knows I’m going to come after him every second. That’s the fight to make.”