Joseph Benavidez: What Demetrious Johnson Accomplished ‘May Never Be Done Again’

Joseph Benavidez comments on Demetrious Johnson leaving the UFC and joining ONE Championship in a historic, first of its kind trade between two promotions

Joseph Benavidez may count Demetrious Johnson as one of his greatest rivals but that doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate what the former flyweight champion did during his run with the UFC.

Just recently, Johnson exited the UFC in a trade that sent him to ONE Championship where he will debut in 2019.

Benavidez, who faced Johnson twice previously, said he heard rumors about the former 125-pound king joining the Singapore based promotion but even he was shocked at how the deal got done with a trade that sent Ben Askren to the UFC.

“I had heard rumors of him maybe wanting to do that and explore his options,” Benavidez said when speaking about Johnson. “For money, for experience, for just a little bit of everything. So I heard the rumors so when it came out the only thing that surprised me was the way that it happened with the trade, which it’s the first of its kind. I think that is a really amazing story in itself. The fact that it’s the first time for it to happen, two major organizations trade two major players like that.

“Could be the start of a whole new thing, which I thought was cool.”

Johnson’s exit brought up a lot of questions about the future of the flyweight division with rumors swirling that the UFC may close down the weight class next year.

Right now the flyweight title will be defended at least one more time with current champion Henry Cejudo scheduled to meet bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw at UFC 233 in January.

Beyond that fight, no one seems to know for certain what the future holds for flyweight but Benavidez isn’t going to fault Johnson for doing what’s best for him and his family.

“You see what he’s accomplished in the UFC and that’s in tact. Now he just wants to go accomplish something else,” Benavidez said. “He seems happy with the division. He’s doing what’s right for him and his family. He’s happy with it. It’s not one of those things where ‘oh my god they forced him out’ or did something wrong. It’s something that he’s happy with and something both parties seemed to agree on.

“I think it’s just cool for the sport in general and I think it would be a lot different case if he was the champion still but the fact that he just lost the belt to Cejudo and this happened, it just seems like the show is going on.”

Benavidez remains hopeful for the future of the flyweight division in the UFC and says that Johnson’s exit may allow the weight class to thrive.

That said, Benavidez admits what Johnson did during his tenure with the UFC was incredible impressive and may never be topped again — by anybody at any weight class.

“Demetrious did amazing things in the flyweight division, did things that may never be done again in any division,” Benavidez said.

For his part, Benavidez isn’t stressing about the future of the flyweight division right now, especially with his next fight scheduled for Nov. 30 at ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ Finale where he faces Alex Perez on the card.

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.