If Gabriel Benitez thought he’d seen it all entering UFC Fresno, he was wrong.
The Mexican fighter, who sports over a decade of experience competing professionally in MMA, entered the Octagon last weekend to take on exciting brawler Jason Knight in the co-main event of UFC Fresno. What seemed to be a regular day at the office for Benitez turned into something a bit more unusual than your typical cage fight.
In the opening round of their featherweight contest, “Moggly” attempted to lock up a guillotine choke on Knight and during that process Knight took a bite at Benitez’s fingers.
“I think it was a moment of desperation,” Benitez told MMA Fighting. “I heard when his corner yelled, ‘defend the guillotine, defend the guillotine,’ and in that moment I had him in the guillotine, and I think he felt the pressure. When I grabbed the chin, he slid his chin to his chest, opened his mouth, and in that moment he bit me.”
Benitez yelled in pain as soon as he felt the bite. Fortunately for “Moggly”, referee Mark Smith noticed the incident, stopped the action, and immediately deducted a point from Knight.
This was the first time the cast-member of season one of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America was bitten in his 26-fight professional MMA career. Benitez didn’t suffer any major injuries on his fingers, but a says they’re still a bit swollen a few days removed from the fight.
Benitez recalls the unusual situation and says he almost didn’t believe it was happening until he felt the second bite.
“All of the sudden, I just felt the bite, and it happened twice,” Benitez explained. “The first one, I stopped for a second and thought, ‘no, it can’t be,’ and the second one, that’s when I yelled because it hurt a lot. My finger is actually a bit swollen, but nothing major happened. He was wearing a mouthpiece but that protected the top teeth, not the bottom, so I did feel the teeth but it didn’t open (cut) me or anything, it was just the pressure of the bite which hurt a lot.”
After the finger-biting incident, Benitez went on to fight Knight for two more rounds, dominating the action on the feet, while stopping Knight’s grappling and takedown attempts. The AKA product picked up a solid unanimous decision win, improving his MMA record to 20-6, and his UFC run to 4-2.
Despite the pain and the oddness of the incident, the 29-year-old Benitez says he was not thrown off by Knight’s tactics, which allowed him to stick to his game plan and eventually win the bout.
“In that moment, I didn’t want to get distracted by anything,” Benitez said. “I just simply let it be because I didn’t want to get distracted. I didn’t feel any anger, I just almost didn’t believe it like at that moment. I was like, ‘This is not true, he didn’t bite me,’ so I was just incredulous. But nothing major happened and I was able to continue.
“I just simply stuck to my strategy. I didn’t want to go to the ground with him, I felt superior on the feet, so I just stuck to my plan. If I went to the ground, I was just going to stand back up and keep hitting him on the feet. Even my coach Javier Mendez told me, ‘Don’t worry, you can keep attempting it (guillotine choke), but we’re going to stick to the strategy,’ and that’s what I did.”