This is an incredibly exciting time to be a fan of the lighter-weight classes in MMA. This new flyweight division is set to crown its first champion later this year, but first we have to go through the semi-finals.
On one side, you have Team Alpha Male product Joseph Benavidez. One of the top three best bantamweights in the world, he would only suffer defeats to the number one fighter in that division, Dominick Cruz. Even in their second fight, Benavidez still made Cruz struggle with his speed but Cruz walked away as the rightful winner. In my estimation, Benavidez is the most well-rounded fighter of this four man tournament. Great wrestling, can take you down with double legs or nifty trips. Very good striking, almost in the mold of Faber’s striking. His submission game might be his best asset. He tapped out BJJ black belts Wagnney Fabiano and Miguel Angel Torres with his Team Alpha Male guillotine choke. He’s aggressive and has the cardio to keep that aggression going until the final bell.
On the other side, you have Shooto 123 lbs champion Yasuhiro Urushitani. I’ve only seen a little bit of footage of his career, but he’s a difficult fighter to deal with. Great footwork, likes to back up, hit strikes while going backwards and likes to counter. He has good punches and kicks, his knockout of Yuki Shoujou is worth tracking down. He’s very slick on the feet, very technical striking.
The one thing Urushitani has over Benavidez is that he’s fought so many times at this weight class. So Urushitani is already used to how it feels to fight at this weight, Benavidez doesn’t yet. But I doubt he’s fought anyone as well rounded as Benavidez at this point. Benavidez is going to be aggressive and he should have more power to his strikes. If it goes to the ground, Urushitani should be worried about Benavidez opening up a hole in his head with an elbow (like he did to Torres) and be ready for guillotine choke attempts. You can never be sure about who is going to win in MMA, but I’m pretty sure Joseph Benavidez is going to be fighting for the UFC World Flyweight Championship in 2012.