Demetrious Johnson has nothing but praise for his former opponent, Joseph Benavidez.
Johnson fought Benavidez twice, winning by split decision and knockout. He won and defended his belt with the victories and last week, Benavidez announced his retirement from the sport.
Although Benavidez never became a UFC champion, Johnson says he had an amazing career and has nothing but praise for Benavidez.
“(He had) an amazing career,” Johnson told MMA Junkie Radio. “Me and Joseph Benavidez shared a lot of time together throughout our career – going to see Coldplay before UFC 152, where me and him competed for the first flyweight title in the UFC; me and him fighting at UFC on FOX 8 in Sacramento, and just sharing the Octagon with him has been a pleasure of mine.
“I remember watching him fight when I used to work full time. He’s had a great career, and I always told him there’s more to fighting than being a world champion,” Johnson continued. “All of the sudden when he has kids, it’s going to change his whole perspective about life. For me, to be able to take my daughter to school this morning, pick her up, come home, cook her lunch, and her sitting on my lap now – this is why I fight, to be able to provide for my family. So for him, I sent him a message on Instagram saying, ‘Congrats on an amazing career. Enjoy the next phase of your life.’ We can’t fight forever. There’s going to be a point in time where I’m going to do the same thing.”
Benavidez ended his career on a three-fight losing streak and never won UFC gold. Yet, for Johnson, he says despite not winning the title, Benavidez’s legacy is secure as he is a legend and one of the best flyweights of all time.
“What a successful career. Even though he never became a champion, still an amazing career,” Johnson said. “People are going to look back at his fights and see how good he was, how he fought in both divisions. I mean – legend.”