SAN JOSE, Calif. – Darren Uyenoyama wanted Joseph Benavidez on the ground, and Benavidez didn’t care.
The Team Alpha Male standout worked Uyenoyama over in the standup game. When the fight went to the canvas – Uyenoyama’s wheelhouse – Benavidez had no trouble there, either. But it was back standing where he put Uyenoyama away with a second-round TKO.
The flyweight bout was part of the preliminary card of today’s UFC on FOX 7 event at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. It aired on FX following additional prelims on Facebook and ahead of a main card on FOX.
Uyenoyama circled outside from the start with Benavidez stalking him down. He hit the dirt 45 seconds in, then again when Benavidez caught a kick and tripped him. Benavidez briefly went to the ground with Uyenoyama, but then thought better of it and brought the fight back to standing after landing a few kicks to Uyenoyama’s legs.
After a brief stop when Benavidez connected too low with a kick, he nearly caught another kick to the body. And seconds later, when Uyenoyama kicked again, Benavidez countered perfectly with an over-the-top right hand that put his opponent on the canvas again.
WIth a little less than two minutes left in the first, Benavidez delivered a big right kick to the head. With Uyenoyama on the ground again, Benavidez drove in hoping to stop the fight. But Uyenoyama recovered. Benavidez then shot for a takedown and got it after the fight returned to the feet, but then brought the fight back to standing.
In the second, Benavidez went right back to work in the striking game, and Uyenoyama seemed to have no clear answer for it. Ninety seconds in, a Benavidez punch and kick combo forced Uyenoyama to tie him up and look for a takedown. But Uyenoyama let go, dropped down to his back, and Benavidez followed him there and landed two big punches before going back to his feet.
Late in the second, Benavidez landed a brutal kick to Uyenoyama’s body, and it appeared he was hurt. Benavidez sensed it, and he came in quickly and landed another body shot with a left hand in the same spot as the kick that had Uyenoyama buckled and on the canvas. From there, the end came quickly as Benavidez landed some quick punches before Herb Dean shut things down.
“I felt good everywhere,” Benavidez said. “I was able to go to the ground with an elite grappler and I actually felt stronger, especially from the top. I look for the body shots because they work and they hurt. When you wake up in the morning after a knockout, you don’t feel anything. But after a body shot, you’re definitely feeling it. I faked the big right hand and was able to connect. My awesome coaches Duane Ludwig and Jimmy Gifford were yelling that he was hurt, so I went in to swarm him.”
Benavidez (18-3 MMA, 5-1 UFC) has won back-to-back fights since a flyweight title fight loss to Demetrious Johnson at UFC 152. Uyenoyama (8-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) had a three-fight win streak snapped and lost for the first time under the UFC banner.
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John Morgan and Ben Fowlkes contributed to this report on-site in San Jose.