No. 1 UFC flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss “The Ultimate Fighter 24: Tournament of Champions.” The show features a single-elimination tournament for 16 flyweight champions, with the winner to get a title shot against UFC champion Demtrious Johnson (24-2-1 MMA, 12-1-1 UFC), one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
“Dude, it’s sick,” Benavidez said on Ferrall on the Bench. “It’s crazy. It’s a great format for the show. This is 24 seasons into the show, and this is what we need – a shakeup. Even our division, it’s new. It needs that shake-up. It needs that exposure. People need to see the flyweight division and know everything that everyone else knows, that fight fans know, how exciting, how great the fighters and the fighters are, how skilled they are. This is an awesome season for that.”
Johnson, who is nicknamed “Mighty Mouse,” has won 10 straight fights. He hasn’t lost since October 2011. He beat Benavidez by split decision at UFC 152 in September 2012 and by knockout at UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Benavidez 2 in December 2013.
“We’ve had such a dominant champion in Demetrious Johnson, which I hate saying because, yes, it was my job to beat him a few times and I failed,” Benavidez said. “But we’ve had such a dominant champion. He doesn’t even get the respect he deserves. So the fact that we had to make a whole tournament and TV show around finding somebody that can go in and compete with him, it’s crazy. It’s insane. It’s must-watch TV.”
Fighters include Alexandre Pantoja, Yoni Sherbatov, Tim Elliot, Damacio Page, Hiromasa Ogikubo and Matt Schnell, among others.
“All the 16 guys we got in on the show are hungry guys from all round the world – Africa, Brazil, Japan, all champions through America,” Benavidez said. “So every show is a title fight in all other organizations. It’s a giant tournament leading up to the best champion . . . eventually (getting) a shot at Demetrious, at the best title in the world, which is the UFC. It’s crazy, man. I’m happy to be a part of it. I’m a fan of the division, the flyweight division, us small guys, us strange little men. I love seeing all our small guys succeed and get this exposure, so I’m a fan of building this division. Every time I can see that happen and be a part of it, it’s awesome. I was the first win in this division. I was the first part of the initial flyweight tournament. To see where it’s come now, it’s outstanding.”