After falling short and losing a close split decision to dominant flyweight champion Demetrious “Might Mouse” Johnson, Joseph Benavidez (18-3 MMA, 5-1 UFC) has been on a tear and looks to earn his third straight victory to secure himself a title shot with a win over Jussier Formiga (15-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 28 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Benavidez and Formiga are ranked at #2 and #6 respectively, making this fight very pivotal for these two elite flyweights. Benavidez of Team Alpha Male is a very athletic fighter having wrestled collegiately and became New Mexico’s State wrestling champion in 2000. He has earned his top spot in the flyweight division with his ability to use his athleticism and wrestling to compliment his knockout power. With Duane Ludwig, new striking coach of Team Alpha Male, assisting the striking of training partner Chad Mendes who is coming off of a KO victory over Clay Guida one can only wait to see what improvements he has made for the #2 ranked flyweight.
Formiga, however, is not one to try and win any fight by knocking down or beating up his opponents for any reason other than to get it to the ground to submit them. Having earned seven submission victories in 15 of his wins, five of them being in the first round, but zero knockouts it’s quite clear that Formiga is going to look to tie up Benavidez and some how get the athletic fighter on his back. His conditioning is going to have to be top notch in this fight as taking down Benavidez will not come without failed attempts meaning it will only get harder as the fight goes on, especially since Formiga is known to fade in later rounds.
On paper, this fight seems impossible for Formiga which would explain Benavidez being the -545 favorite. Formiga needs to get this fight to the ground to utilize his world class grappling, but Benavidez is much more athletic with better wrestling. Formiga will have to grab any limb of Benavidez’ in reach to force the fight into a grappling match where he should look to either tie up submission attempts on the feet or use his judo trips rather than try and explode with double legs or single legs as Benavidez’ wrestling is far superior.
My Prediction: Benavidez def. Formiga via TKO in round 2.
The wrestle-boxing style of Benavidez simply counters the limited striking, all grappling style of making this fight far too difficult for Formiga. Benavidez is more athletic, more powerful, and better conditioned and has faced many high level grapplers all of which had similar outcomes, TKO’ing both Yahya and Uyenoyama as well as taking submitting Torres by Guillotine. While Formiga will certainly press forward and fight his heart out in front of his home town crowd, Benavidez will likely defend his take down attempts and out box him on the feet. With Formiga coming out strong in the first, his lesser conditioning will show in the second and Benavidez will take full advantage of that, push the action, and score a TKO late in the round.