If the UFC has plans to get rid of the flyweight division, former title challenger Joseph Benavidez is unlikely to be effected by it. During a meeting with the media on Wednesday, Benavidez announced that he has signed a four-fight deal with the UFC.
Benavidez, who is scheduled to face Dustin Ortiz at UFC Fight Night 143, on January 19 in Brooklyn, New York will come in with uncertainty surrounding the flyweight division. Rumors have been circling that the UFC is looking to end the flyweight division after they traded Demetrious Johnson to ONE Championship in exchange for Ben Askren.
The former long-reigning champion Johnson lost his title to Henry Cejudo back at UFC 227 and now Cejudo will look to defend his title against current bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw on the same night Benavidez faces Ortiz. With questions surrounding the division, Benavidez told reporters he believes that his new contract is a good sign for his division.
“I just signed a new four-fight deal. I think that’s another good sign. I didn’t even know guys were getting cut until I saw them fighting in RIZIN and I was like, how did those guys get cut? I feel those things are always announced so I heard it kind of stopped.”
“The other way I gauge it is that look, there’s a flyweight title fight. One of the best pound-for-pound is coming down to our weight to fight. We have a new champion headlining the first card ever with ESPN, so you know, that’s how I gauge it right now. I’m fighting on that card. After the fight, I’ll look at it again and see what happened in this fight and what are they going to do now? I haven’t heard anything, everything really chilled out once they got that fight because they know it’s steady. They know they can’t really do anything to the division until after this fight with TJ and Cejudo. Like I said, business as usual until I hear otherwise.”
Benavidez won his last fight against Alex Perez back in November of 2018 at the TUF 28 Finale after dropping a split decision to Sergio Pettis at UFC 225 last June. Before his loss to Pettis, Benavidez was riding a six-fight winning streak and has a chance to get back into title contention with a win over Ortiz.
As the future of the flyweight division remains unknown, Joseph Benavidez has a new deal that has him set for his next four fights in the UFC.