Joseph Benavidez's timing probably could have been better, but his message to Henry Cejudo still got through loud and clear.
Benavidez called out Cejudo following a win over Zach Makovsky at UFC Fight Night 82, questioning whether Cejudo had the right credentials to deserve the next UFC title shot. And while Cejudo has a different opponent in his immediate crosshairs, he now is saving a little something for Benavidez, too.
"He's going to get it, man," Cejudo said recently on The MMA Hour.
"I don't like to open my mouth a lot, because I'll be honest with you, man, I come from the streets. I come from a certain part of the ghetto here in Phoenix. I'm a good s**t-talker. I'm really trying to compose myself a little bit, but I think he's very disrespectful."
Benavidez's initial callout was met by some confusion, as it came right after the UFC announced Demetrious Johnson vs. Cejudo for the flyweight title at UFC 197. But Benavidez doubled down on his comments at UFC Fight Night 82's post-fight press conference, stating that Cejudo was undeserving of the title shot and had yet to "beat the top guys" in the division.
Cejudo is 4-0 inside the UFC, with his best win coming in a late-2015 split decision over Jussier Formiga. Benavidez, on the other hand, has won five straight fights but lost twice to Johnson, including a first-round knockout loss in 2013.
Benavidez kept that hot streak going in Las Vegas, taking a unanimous decision over Makovsky, although Cejudo wasn't overly impressed by what he saw.
"I think the third round looked good," Cejudo said. "But I think he's got flaws, man, like everybody else. I feel like I'm just too fast for him. I think Makovsky had the style to beat him, but I feel like he got tired. Henry Cejudo wouldn't get tired. If anything, I get better throughout the rounds."
Cejudo and Benavidez were briefly linked to a fight last year at UFC 191, however the bout failed to materialize and both men went their separate ways.
Still, as two of the highest-ranked flyweights in the division, Cejudo and Benavidez are eventually destined to cross paths, and the Olympic gold medalist is looking forward to the day he can make Benavidez eat his words.
"Right now, Demetrious Johnson is on my mind, and I know I'm going to beat him," Cejudo said. "But I feel like I'm a good match-up for Joseph Benavidez. I think his biggest strength is his heart, and I admire that. He's a really tough human being. Technically, I don't think he's that sound. I'm a faster, sharper version of what he is, and I'm crisper. I'm faster and I'm just as mentally strong.
"I will admit he is one strong human being, but man, it's going to come down to more than that. Watch me punch, watch him punch. Watch him kick, watch me kick. It's different. I like to break things down, but his time is coming. His time is coming.
"I never said anything to the man. But, when I fight him, it's going to be personal."