In a perfect world, Joseph Benavidez’s next fight would be against Henry Cejudo when the reigning UFC flyweight champion returns to the division.
Unfortunately, though, Cejudo hasn’t fully committed to coming back to 125 pounds. After winning the title last year in a razor-close decision against Demetrious Johnson and defending the belt with a lightning-quick knockout over T.J. Dillashaw, he moved up to 135 pounds and became a two-division champion with a win over Marlon Moraes to win the bantamweight title.
Cejudo was then forced into surgery to repair a damaged shoulder, which is going to keep him sidelined until early 2020.
UFC president Dana White insists Cejudo’s next fight needs to take place at flyweight. But the Olympic gold medalist who dubbed himself “Triple C” after his latest title win is more focused on negotiating a better deal for his next fight, rather than saying with absolute certainty that he intends to return to 125 pounds.
That leaves Benavidez in limbo as the No. 1 contender in the division, which is why he’d like to make this public: If Cejudo doesn’t come back to flyweight, he’ll gladly take on the next person in line to crown a new champion.
“Hey guys, been trying to get an answer/decision from [Henry] Cejudo and the UFC about what he’s gonna do when he’s back in March,” Benavidez wrote on Twitter. “It’s not ideal but I’m willing to wait until then to fight him. But no one wants to be held up till March if he just wants to fight at bantamweight.
“So let’s get the show on the road! If you’re not coming back down, I’d be happy to fight [Deiveson] Figueiredo ASAP for the vacant flyweight title.”
@HenryCejudo @danawhite @Mickmaynard2 pic.twitter.com/MQn08gOJ2b— Joseph Benavidez (@JoeJitsu) October 13, 2019
Deiveson Figueiredo earned his second win in a row and sixth overall in the UFC this past weekend with a first-round submission against former title contender Tim Elliott.
Afterwards, the Brazilian called out Benavidez while Cejudo remains undecided about his future at 125 pounds.
It remains unclear if the UFC would move towards that fight. But for now, it appears everybody is in a holding pattern waiting for Cejudo to get healthy again. Then he can determine whether he plans to return to flyweight to defend his title, or potentially surrender the belt and instead focus only on the bantamweight division.