The Ultimate Fighter 18 Season Finale set for November 30th has added a Flyweight Title defense for champion Demetrious Johnson, as he rematches Joseph Benavidez. The two first met back at UFC 152, when Johnson won a split decision after 5 rounds to become the first Flyweight champion. Since then, Benavides has won three fights in a row, and “Mighty Mouse” Johnson has defended his belt twice. With little in the way of depth at Flyweight, it was only logical that the two would meet again.
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The original fight was back in September of 2012, and when the lines opened for that fight, Benavidez was a pretty strong favorite at (-280) and Johnson as a (+210) underdog. It will be interesting to see where that figure will be for the second edition of this matchup.
Benavidez has improved his striking, and it has shown in his last few outings. He is an elite wrestler, and now having spent time with trainer Duane Ludwig, he has added dangerous punches to his arsenal. Benavidez will retain slight advantages in height and reach that he had in the first fight.
This fight will probably emerge as close to a pick ‘em fight, as Johnson has shown a lot of resiliency as champion. Johnson has shown a five round gas tank, so a long fight is ont an issue, and he will want to extend Benavidez deep if he can get the Team Alpha Male fighter to burn up energy in the earlier rounds.
Overall, Benavidez may still be the way to go in this fight. There are times where a strong groups makes the individuals stronger, and that seems to be the case with Alpha Male. Benavides is one of a core of top fighters (Chad Mendes, Urijah Faber) who have failed at attaining a UFC belt, but have been driving to achieve that goal together. Do not count out that little extra motivation Benavides will have to be the first of the team to campture a UFC World title.