As he prepares to face the Brazilian to crown a new 125-pound champion at UFC Norfolk, Benavidez has seen plenty of footage to know that Figueiredo is an aggressive, forward pressure fighter who always seems to be gunning for the knockout.
Just days after their fight was made, Figueiredo told MMA Fighting that he was “going there to kill” Benavidez as he sought to win his first UFC title.
For his part, the top ranked flyweight contender actually welcomes that kind of game plan and he invites Figueiredo to do his best when they clash on Saturday night.
“I like when says that,” Benavidez told MMA Fighting. “I just like that from a fighter in this division. As an opponent, I really like it and respect it and look forward to it.”
With a slew of knockouts and submissions on his resume, Benavidez actually prefers an opponent who brings the fight to him because it opens up all sorts of opportunities for a counter attack.
That’s why he really hopes Figueiredo comes after him from the first second the fight starts until it’s over because that gives Benavidez even more confidence that he’ll leave Virginia as the new UFC flyweight champion.
“Looking back just at him in general, he will fight me,” Benavidez said. “That’s when I thrive. When it’s guys going out there trying not to fight me, to avoid me and be safe, that’s kind of hard for anybody. Anybody you fight, you want to go strike for strike and you’re not going to keep up [with me]. You want to scramble on the ground with me, do all that, I’m ready.
“That’s obviously what I train for, what I believe in myself against anybody in the world. That’s what I like about him. He’s aggressive. He’s going to go in there to fight. That’s going to make for a great title fight.”
Benavidez gives Figueiredo credit for a strategy that typically involves overwhelming his opponents. It’s an old school approach but Benavidez appreciates that Figueiredo seems to live by the sword or die by the sword in all of his fights.
“He’s a scary little guy,” Benavidez said. “He finishes fights. He always puts on exciting fights. I always liked that fight moving forward. At the time, I was watching him when he was undefeated and I always liked that fight. I knew he was going to be at the top at some point. I feel like he’s improving.
“I respect his athletic ability, his explosiveness and his excitement. If we’re talking about confidence, I think it’s a great matchup for me.”
If there’s one other intangible that Benavidez believes swings in his favor, it’s that he’s been here before while this is the first time Figueiredo has ever prepared for a five round fight much less dealt with the pressure that comes along with a title opportunity in a main event.
While he certainly doesn’t expect experience to just carry him to victory, Benavidez understands what it’s like to make that walk to the Octagon with everything on the line and the entire world watching.
He knows the feeling of digging deep to gut out the final five minutes in a championship fight. Benavidez has seen it all but this will be the first time for Figueiredo in every one of those situations and it’s entirely possible that will weigh him down come fight night.
“Those [experiences] are huge,” Benavidez saiad. “Fighting is crazy. You’ve got to earn the opportunity to do it. You’ve got to prepare for it. Even if you have your best preparation and everything is on your side on paper, you have a chance at winning but you still have to go out there and earn it, literally second by second.
“Just me being in this position before, being there more times, especially the title fight, that gives me a bit more of a chance. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is a recipe for it but that gives me variables that he doesn’t have yet. All those little tiny things up my chances. It really makes it harder for him.”
That said, Benavidez knows nothing is certain until the work is done.
All of his past fights have led him to this moment but Benavidez still has to go out and beat Figueiredo if he wants to finally wear UFC gold around his waist.
“I believe in myself and my training,” Benavidez said. “But at the same time you can’t believe in anything in this sport. Everything takes place in the split seconds of a fight.”