Former flyweight title challenger Joseph Benavidez will be looking to re-establish himself as a major force within the 125-pound ranks when he battles Tim Elliott at UFC 172 in Baltimore. Both competitors are of top-10 stock and it has the potential to be a highly entertaining affair.
Benavidez is potentially facing a steep hill to climb after being knocked out for the first time in his career back at UFC on FOX 9 by champion Demetrious Johnson. The rematch produced an emphatic result in favor of “Mighty Mouse” after their first clash at UFC 152 produced a split-decision victory for Johnson. The stunning knockout loss snapped a three-fight win streak for Benavidez, and he’s no doubt intent on producing a major bounce-back performance.
“Joe B-Wan Kenobi” faces a tough assignment in the rugged Elliott who’s proven to be a tenacious and unbreakable competitor. The No. 2 ranked Benavidez is a solid finisher for the 125-pound division with 14 of his 19 career victories having come by knockout or submission.
Elliott is a high volume, unorthodox striker who possesses a sturdy chin. That will bode well for the No. 8 ranked competitor against the hard-punching Benavidez. While Elliott is only 2-2 inside the Octagon those losses have come against elite competition in the form of John Dodson and Ali Bagautinov. Dodson lost in a previous title shot against Johnson while “Puncher King” is getting his title chance at UFC 174.
Elliott showed plenty of determination in the battle against Bagautinov, absorbing a number of crisp punches in losing a unanimous decision at UFC 167. He has a 10-4-1 record and has produced seven finishes. He will be facing a speed and power disadvantage but makes up for those shortcomings with his tremendous resolve.
This is an intriguing matchup between two highly motivated fighters who suffered setbacks in their last Octagon appearances. The former title challenger Benavidez has been near the top of the rankings for the last couple of years and is hungry to work his way back to the top. The gritty Elliott will need to take his game to another level if he hopes to come away with the biggest victory of his career.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports