Ever since the UFC established the 125-pound weight class the two names most synonymous with the division have been champion Demetrious Johnson and No. 1 ranked contender Joseph Benavidez.
Not only did they meet in the inaugural title fight to declare a champion but Johnson and Benavidez faced off again just over a year later after both remained undefeated in the division until their rematch.
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To his credit, Johnson has bested Benavidez on both occasions, but now three years after their last fight it's getting awfully hard to resist a third meeting between the two best flyweight fighters in the world.
Benavidez has won his last five fights in a row and with a victory over No. 2 ranked Henry Cejudo on Saturday night, a third bout with Johnson may just be waiting around the corner.
“It would be amazing honestly. For both parties, I think it would be great and it would only be right,” Benavidez said about another bout with Johnson on the Fight Society podcast. “The thing with me and DJ, people think it's so unheard of to get a third fight and a fourth fight and whatever. It's like let us fight. We're two awesome world-class fighters and every single fight is going to be good.
“Like (Jake) LaMotta and 'Sugar' Ray Robinson fought like six times. Every fight was good.”
If Johnson gets past “Ultimate Fighter” winner Tim Elliott on the same card Saturday night, he will also be one fight away from tying Anderson Silva's all-time record with 10 consecutive title defenses.
Benavidez couldn't think of a more poetic way to meet Johnson again with the title up for grabs and history on the line.
Maybe the most compelling argument would be Benavidez has separated himself from the pack at 125-pounds and with a dominant win over Cejudo, there really isn't anybody left to face unless he finally gets another crack at Johnson and the title.
“I guarantee every fight's going to be good. Our first fight was a split decision. The second fight he caught me and I felt the best I ever felt going into that fight. Stuff happens. He's never knocked out anybody with one punch and I had never been finished. It's almost a coincidence. Not taking anything away from him, he caught me on an opening. But every fight is going to be awesome. As long as we're both around, I'd love to fight.”
First things first, Benavidez has to dispatch of Cejudo after a tumultuous season spent coaching against each other on “The Ultimate Fighter”.
While Benavidez quickly points out that he'll never be friends with Cejudo, he'd be crazy to discount the opposition he represents as a top ranked flyweight and former Olympic gold medalist in wrestling.
“I would never say that he's not on my level but it remains to be seen. It's my job to go out there and I guess show that he's not on my level,” Benavidez said. “I try to do that every time. Just go out and prove that I'm better than the guy. My job's to go out there and prove that I'm the better guy.”
In recent months, Benavidez has also overhauled his training camp by surrounding himself with a group of coaches and fighters who are all focused on making him better. He's continued to work with head coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig in Colorado while also training alongside Xtreme Couture coach Robert Follis.
Benavidez has even started to amass his own group of lighter weight fighters that he dubbed 'the strange little men' that have banded together while getting ready for upcoming bouts. All told, Benavidez believes this is going to result in the best performance of his career and Cejudo is going to be the recipient to prove how much he's grown in recent months.
“I feel I'm getting better every time, making the necessary changes in my camp with Duane (Ludwig) so yeah that's always the goal. I think Henry's a great opponent for it. To go out there and really shine and showcase my skills,” Benavidez said.
Afterward, Benavidez makes no bones about what he wants next.
With Johnson fighting after him on Saturday night, he hopes to get an impressive win over Cejudo, which will then force the UFC's hand to realize that he's the only obstacle left standing in the way of the flyweight champion.
“He's the only guy I want to fight,” Benavidez said about Johnson. “He's the top guy. I'll do it as many times as it takes and I know I can go out there and beat him on any given night. I'll be prepared whenever it inevitably gets there.”