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Joseph Benavidez sees Deiveson Figueiredo rematch as chance to continue from ‘headbutt’ incident


Joseph Benavidez’s most recent shot at UFC gold ended in controversy at UFC on ESPN+ 27 after Deiveson Figueiredo missed weight, then denied Benavidez (28-6 MMA, 15-4 UFC) the title by finishing him after an initial clash of heads wasn’t spotted by the referee.

The long-tenured flyweight contender thought his chance had been taken from him after he was not allowed time to recover from the head butt, but now, following the news of his return matchup with Figueiredo (18-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) on July 18, he says he’s happy to be getting what he thinks he deserves.

“Yeah, that’s great. Great time,” he told MMA Junkie Radio. “We don’t know the location yet, but ‘Fight Island’ … that would be another thing of fighting during this quarantine. Funnily enough, it’s something all the fighters kind of want to experience and be a part of, knowing the world’s watching and stuff. You see guys coming out of the woodwork ready to fight (or) ready to fight again after they’ve already fought. So it’s something I was looking forward to.

“I’ve got an amount of time I’m comfortable with, to July 18, and it’s exciting. This is the fight I’ve obviously wanted.”

Given the unfortunate circumstances surrounding his loss to Figueiredo at UFC on ESPN+ 27 in February, Benavidez said he’s considering the return matchup a continuation of their prior meeting, with the action resuming as if the referee had stopped the action for the initial head butt.

“I just look at it as, like, this is what would have happened if the ref had happened to step in when the head butt happened,” he said. “We’re starting from there, and kind of forget about everything else and look at how the fight was going up until then. It’s like, if the ref had stopped the fight, now we’re starting again a few months later, because I think I deserve that – to have that.”

While Benavidez suffered as a result of the head butt, he also paid close attention to the recent bantamweight title fight between Henry Cejudo and Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 and said referee Keith Peterson made the exact call during that bout that Dan Miragliotta missed in the Figueiredo fight.

“A lot of people talk about Keith Peterson doing this and that, and the stoppage, but he made an incredible call right before that of stopping the fight when they accidentally clashed heads, which allowed Cejudo to then get the finish – to recuperate, check his cut, and get the finish,” Benavidez said. “That was an actually great call because it’s not easy to see head butts when guys are throwing.

“I just wanted my fair shake and get it stopped and looked at and be able to start with all my wits about me instead of, I was basically rocked and finished after that head butt. That’s the last thing I really remembered.”

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