Olivi To Be Cageside For Benavidez Title Fight
In what is a rare instance, UFC reporter Megan Olivi will be cageside for her husband Joseph Benavidez’s title fight this weekend.
Benavidez takes on Deiveson Figueiredo for the vacant flyweight title in the main event of UFC Norfolk on Saturday. For Benavidez, it will be a first title shot since 2013 when he was knocked out by Demetrious Johnson.
And unlike previous events where her husband has fought, Olivi will be right in the thick of things octagonside.
“He was the co-main event on an ESPN card in June and I was doing live hits and interviews throughout the night, and it’s great,” Olivi told MMA Junkie. “I actually like that because otherwise everybody just kind of stares at me (like), ‘You OK?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine, he’s fighting in like five hours. I’m fine.’ Then it’s like, ‘Are you sure?’ I’m like, ‘Yes! I’m OK.’ I like being able to stay busy and stuff. But when I don’t work, I don’t watch Joe fight.
“This will be the first fight since the first (Jussier) Formiga fight (in September 2013) where he knocked him out in Brazil, this will be the first one I’m octagonside for. Joseph doesn’t get nervous, but I get really nervous, so I just feel like God gives me both of our nerves and I just carry those for the 15 or 25 minutes.”
Despite the natural nerves Olivi will have, she still remains confident in Benavidez’s ability. She is also helped by the fact that her husband usually never shows any nerves leading up to a fight.
“I have the utmost confidence in his ability; I know how hard he works, and there’s nothing I can do to help,” Olivi said. “I can’t go in there and be like, ‘I got this.’
“I haven’t watched in a really long time. I haven’t watched a lot of his other fights back, but I will be watching this one. I’m sure I’ll have a rosary in hand, but it’ll be great. Our friends and family are all coming, so I have an awesome support system, and he is so great on fight day that I don’t have to worry about him. He’s not nervous or like, ‘I don’t know if I should do this.’ He’s not one of those guys you see backstage who is getting sick or crying or anything like that. He’s genuinely so excited and can’t wait to go out there that it does make everything so much easier for me.”
With Johnson no longer in the promotion, Benavidez finally has his chance at becoming a UFC champion. Many have long regarded him as the best UFC fighter not to have won a belt.
That can certainly change on Saturday night. But even without the belt, Olivi believes Benavidez has solidified himself as one of the best fighters in the world.
That said, adding a UFC title to his resume would still be a very big deal.
“It just solidifies that Joe is one of the best,” Olivi added when asked what becoming a champion would mean for Benavidez. “Oftentimes they say, ‘Oh, he’s the best UFC fighter to never have a belt.’ The belt is just an object that shows, yes you are the best in this division. But I think there’s been many times that Joseph has been the best. He’s been in the WEC bantamweight, UFC bantamweight, not to mention flyweight once they created the division. I don’t think people have ever looked at him and been like, ‘Oh, he’s not that good.’ He’s always been one of the best. He’s in the top two or three of two divisions for over 10 years.
“It puts a final stamp on it like, ‘Yeah, your name goes on that list of champions.’ He says there’s an extra line on your Wikipedia page. But I think professionally, it does so much for Joseph. And I think personally, yeah, he would be really happy and he would be really bummed if somehow it didn’t work out. I think he’s such a whole person and has so much to offer, that adding that belt on top would be a really beautiful thing.”
Do you think Benavidez will come out on top this weekend?