MMA Record: 25-4
UFC Record: 12-2
Notable Wins: Henry Cejudo, Tim Elliott, Dustin Ortiz, Jussier Formiga, Eddie Wineland
Notable Losses: Demetrious Johnson, Dominick Cruz
Last Fight: Split decision win over Henry Cejudo
Fighter Profile: The second-best flyweight in the sport besides champion Demetrious Johnson, Benavidez has had an amazing UFC career to date with a beautiful 12-2 record in the Octagon, but one thing that’s been missing is the belt. Even though Benavidez has won six-straight fights, the UFC didn’t feel like he deserved a third fight against Johnson and so Benavidez will have to keep knocking off the top conteners and hope for the best. He is coming off a layoff of over a year but the last time we saw him he was going toe-to-toe against Henry Cejudo in a close fight that he edged out. Benavidez is a very well-rounded fighter and if he can come back healthy and strong he has all the tools necessary to make another run for the flyweight title. That is, if the UFC ever gives him another chance.
MMA Record: 16-3
UFC Record: 7-3
Notable Wins: Brandon Moreno, John Moraga, Chris Cariaso
Notable Losses: Ryan Benoit, Henry Cejudo, Alex Caceres
Last Fight: Decision loss to Henry Cejudo
Fighter Profile: The younger brother of former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, young Sergio has had a solid career so far since debuting at age 20 in the Octagon as he’s put together a 7-3 mark inside the Octagon. His biggest strength is his striking and he’s used it to win a number of decisions but the fact he has no wins by stoppage is concerning as it shows it can’t stop his opponents at this level of the game. He’s also suffered a couple surprising stoppage losses himself, although to his credit he’s shown more durability in recent fights. As good as his striking is, though, his takedown defense is a big concern and Cejudo exploited his wrestling weakness in his lat fight. Pettis is young enough that he can improve, but right now it’s hard to call him an elite flyweight.
Fight Breakdown: It’s a shame that a quality fight like this is being buried so far down this card. In some ways it speaks to the depth of this stacked UFC 225 card, but it also shows the UFC isn’t committed to the flyweight division anymore. As far as this matchup goes, it should be a pretty enteratining fight but I have to go with Benavidez to win. He’s just the more well-rounded and complete fighter and has proven himself to be the second-best flyweight in the sport besides “Mighty Mouse.” Benavidez’ age and his long layoff are a bit of a concern but I still think he wins this fight. I think the striking should be close but Benavidez is going to have a big advantage in the wrestling and submission departments and I think he mixes all of his skills together to take home a decision.
Prediction: Joseph Benavidez via decision