Joseph Benavidez has called time on his career.
The multiple time UFC flyweight title challenger revealed the news to MMA Fighting on Wednesday, adding that it’s something he has known for quite some time now.
As per MMA Junkie who first reported the news, Benavidez also withdrew himself from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency drug testing pool.
“I’ve known for a while,” Benavidez said. “I’ve always fought to be the best and also because it was fun. I probably knew my last title shot was my last shot ever so that was kind of not going to happen for me.
“I still knew I could compete in the top five. I could beat guys in the top five, top 10 easy but one of the main things is a lot of these guys that are coming up that are killers or I see them, it’s their UFC debut and they take pictures with me in the back and say, ‘I’ve looked up to you for so long, I used to get off school and watch you in WEC with my dad, I look up to you’ — it’s like, I don’t want to fight these guys next, these killers. I don’t want to beat them up or have them beat me up. There was no more fights that were going to be fun.”
More than anything, there were no compelling matchups that made sense for Benavidez. And if he wasn’t fighting to be the best, there was no point in fighting any further.
“One half of the people, like the younger generation used to watch me on TV and tell me they look up to me,” Benavidez said. “The other half of the generation, I had the connection with on The Ultimate Fighter. There’s just not fights there for me anymore that excite me to have fun. They’d only be for money or whatever. I’d never looked at it like a job I’m doing for money. It’s always been to have fun and to be the best.
“It’s not really fun to me to fight people that I coached on The Ultimate Fighter or people that looked up to me. It’s not really fun to not fight to be the best either. Taking those two things into account, it just wasn’t there anymore and it’s time to move on.”
Benavidez Will Go Down As One Of The Great Flyweights
Benavidez retires with a 28-8 record and a legacy as one of the best smaller weight class fighters to step into the UFC.
Although he retired on a three-fight losing streak following a pair of losses to Deiveson Figueiredo and Askar Askarov, Benavidez was always a perennial contender with wins over the likes of Jussier Formiga, Alex Perez, Henry Cejudo, Ali Bagautinov and John Moraga to name a few.
He did fail to win a UFC title on four occasions, but given that he lost to both Demetrious Johnson and Figueiredo twice, it’s hard to knock him for that — especially as he is among the very best fighters to never win a UFC title.
He is also currently tied with Johnson for the most wins in the UFC flyweight division (13) while he holds the record for most fights (19) and most knockouts at 125 pounds (5).
It will be interesting to see what’s next for the 37-year-old.