Years of hard work and a champion’s mindset are beginning to pay off for Joseph Benavidez. The Team Alpha Male fighter has long been considered one of the world’s best bantamweights, but after the UFC announced it would be creating a flyweight division, the future unfolded.
Later this year, he will have the opportunity to become the first flyweight champion in the organization’s history when he faces fellow contender Demetrius Johnson. It is the high-profile fight Benavidez has longed for, with the chance to display his unique skill set on the sport’s biggest stage.
The inaugural flyweight tournament has raised Benavidez’s profile, and with the announcement of his selection to this year’s Team Edge Challenge, everything appears to be coming together at the right time.
“This opportunity to be a part of the Team Edge Challenge means so much for my career,” Benavidez told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. “I’m up against some amazing guys. They are all great guys who I respect as fighters and people. It would be huge to win. This challenge is all up to the fans voting and that means a lot to have their support because they make this all possible. To represent Edge would be a huge honor.
“I feel things in my career are moving forward and in a quick fashion,” Benavidez said. “It has been a lot of hard work and things are starting to move at a rapid pace. I’m fighting for the world title now and that is huge.
“People become champions frequently in this sport, but only once does someone win a championship in a new division. To have that opportunity and if I win this competition, to have a huge company like Edge backing me, it would mean everything.”
Last year’s competition was won by Benavidez’s close friend and teammate, Chad Mendes. While he is looking to score another victory for the close-knit squad, Benavidez used his well-known sense of humor to break down the friendly competition.
“My teammate, Chad Mendes, won the competition last year and I’m looking to get another one for Team Alpha Male,” Benavidez said. “Chad is a pretty good-looking guy and I guess it all comes down to taste. I find myself with a pretty bad man-crush on him. Maybe in my eyes he’s better looking and in his eyes I’m better looking? I’m not sure to be honest. One thing I do know is if I’m able to win this thing, Edge will have two good-looking guys in back-to-back years.”