Benavidez will face his fellow, flyweight contender on June 29th, and Dana White has already said that the winner will secure a title shot. White reported that, however, before Cejudo also became the bantamweight champ earlier this month by taking out Marlon Moraes.
Well, since Cejudo became a champ-champ, he’s talked about challenging for the featherweight belt. He’s also called out several bantamweights, like Dominick Cruz, Urijah Faber and Cody Garbrandt. But, while talking to “Submission Radio” recently, Benavidez had this to say about who Cejudo’snext opponent should be (quote via MMA Mania):
“You look at the number one guy at bantamweight, which would be Aljamain Sterling. And you look at the number one guy in flyweight, which would be me and Formiga. And having me come out of that, I make more sense than anybody right now,” Benavidez said. “Nobody else has history with Cejudo – and not only history, a win over him. So that’s what makes the most sense, is no one can say they’ve got a win over him. That last win, he has to avenge that loss.”
Is Benavidez onto something here? Ya. He is.
From a meritocratic perspective, there’s no question Benavidez deserves to face Cejudo for the flyweight title, if he beats “Formiga”, and as soon as possible. As he noted, the perennial contender already defeated Cejudo by split decision in 2016. Further, in Benavidez we’re talking about one of the most unheralded, under appreciated fighters in the game. This is a guy whose only losses have been against Cruz, Demetrious Johnson and Sergio Pettis. The latter defeat was via split decision.
Further, if the UFC truly intends of promoting the 125 division still, then having Cejudo defend the belt next, while he’s got more eyes on him due to his recent run at 135, makes a lot of sense.
Now, the question is, however, will this happen? If Benavidez is victorious at UFC Minneapolis? As it stands right now, it looks kind of unlikely.
After Cejudo won the 135 title at UFC 238, he didn’t firmly commit to defending the flyweight title again. Cejudo argued that the flyweight division should continue, and he even mentioned Benavidez while discussing the merits of the division. But, he talked a lot more about fighting at 135 and 145.
Now that Cejudo is going to be sidelined due to shoulder surgery, when he’s ready to return, will he want to make the hard cut to 125? There’s a good chance the answer is no. Not only that, but it seems clear Cejudo’s chasing another big name, money fight, and unfortunately, a rematch with Benavidez probably doesn’t qualify as that.