Four-time UFC title challenger Joseph Benavidez retires from MMA

Joseph Benavidez has also retired.

A longtime contender, Benavidez (28-8 MMA, 19-7 UFC) has hung up his gloves after 36 professional MMA fights – 26 of which came in the UFC. A staple of the UFC flyweight division’s upper echelon, Benavidez challenged for the 125-pound title on four occasions – twice against Demetrious Johnson and twice against Deiveson Figueiredo.

MMA Junkie confirmed the news with several people familiar with the situation. They requested anonymity as Benavidez has not yet made the official announcement. Sources claim that Benavidez directed the UFC to expel him from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) testing pool.

Benavidez’s wife, UFC correspondent Megan Olivi, subsequently confirmed the news on social media (via Twitter):

Retirement adventures are gonna be fun My King Forever @JoeJitsu

— Megan Olivi (@MeganOlivi) September 15, 2021

UFC president Dana White provided a statement to ESPN on Benavidez’s retirement. White stated that

Joe Benavidez was a pillar in the lighter weight divisions for many years.” “Since joining WEC in 2008 and then UFC in 2011, he’s used his unstoppable pace and nasty guillotine to remain at the top of two divisions for 13 years. He will be remembered for his epic fights with (Dominick), Cruz, and (Demetrious] Johnson. He was a constant professional and carried himself in a way that demanded respect from his peers.”

Benavidez, 37, exits the UFC after three straight losses. He most recently competed at UFC 259 in March when he was defeated by Askar Aksarov via unanimous decision.

In June 2006, Benavidez made his professional MMA debut on the California regional scene. With an 8-0 record in July 2008, Benavidez made his WEC debut with a unanimous decision win over Danny Martinez. He would go 5-2 in WEC, with his only losses being a split decision against Dominick Castro and a unanimous decision against Danny Martinez.

Upon the UFC-WEC merger in 2011, Benavidez made his promotional debut at UFC 128 against Ian Loveland, a bout he won via unanimous decision. He was promoted to flyweight in the four-man tournament and won the inaugural title. In the first flyweight title fight, Demetrious Johnson beat Benavidez by a split decision.

Three more wins returned Benavidez to challenge Johnson in December 2013. In that fight, “Mighty Mouse” knocked out Benavidez in 2: 08. Following the bout, Benavidez won six straight before a split decision loss to Sergio Pettis in June 2018.

Victories over Alex Perez, Dustin Ortiz, and Jussier Formiga earned Benavidez another title shot after Henry Cejudo, a fighter he defeated in 2016, vacated the championship. Deiveson Figueiredo finished Benavidez with strikes. Figueiredo lost weight and an immediate rematch was scheduled for the vacant title. In July 2020, Benavidez lost via first round submission.

Benavidez holds the record for most knockout wins in UFC flyweight history (13) and shares the record with Johnson for most wins overall in the history of the weight class (13). His four fight-night bonuses for 125-pound bouts rank second all-time behind Johnson (nine).

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