clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

TUF 28 Finale results: Joseph Benavidez stops Alex Perez despite ref gaffe

MMA: TUF Finale - Benavidez vs Perez
Joseph Benavidez (pictured) was victorious on Friday, overcoming a referee mistake to defeat Alex Perez at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale in Las Vegas
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

A crucial officiating error almost cost Joseph Benavidez a win on Friday.

The two-time flyweight title challenger fought Alex Perez on the preliminary portion of The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale on Friday in Las Vegas and pulled out a TKO victory despite referee Yves Lavigne interfering at an inopportune time.

Perez came out aggressive, looking to cut off Benavidez’s angles and set up his strikes, but the sharp counter-punching of Benavidez stopped Perez from finding any rhythm on offense. When it was Benavidez’s turn to come forward, he was able to push Perez down and get into position for ground-and-pound. That’s when the bout took a turn for the weird.

With Perez holding onto Benavidez’s leg, Benavidez fired punch after punch around Perez’s head. Lavigne put both hands on Benavidez as if to signal a stoppage, causing a bewildered Benavidez to pause as Lavigne stepped back without calling for the bell. That resulted in Perez briefly gaining the advantage with a scramble, only to end up in a similar predicament moments later.

This time, Benavidez’s ground-and-pound resulted in an actual stoppage at the 4:19 mark of round one.

Post-fight, Benavidez shrugged off Lavigne’s error.

“I heard people like, ‘Whoa, what happened with Yves,” Benavidez said. “Yves is doing his best, he’s a great ref. He allowed me to get two finishes in one night. Kind of crazy, never done that before.”

Benavidez then took the mic to challenge the winner of the upcoming flyweight title fight between Henry Cejudo and bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw. He has history with both men, having won a split decision against Cejudo in December 2016 and trained with Dillashaw when Dillashaw was a member of Team Alpha Male.

With the win, Benavidez improved to 13-3 in the UFC and 26-5 overall. He also tied John Moraga for the second-most UFC flyweight stoppages at five, trailing only Demetrious Johnson (7).

Perez (21-5) loses for the first time in four Octagon appearances and was also KO’d for the first time in his career.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting