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Benavidez: ‘The headbutt altered everything’ at UFC Norfolk

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Joseph Benavidez says his accidental clash of heads with Deiveson Figueiredo played a role in his TKO loss at UFC Norfolk.

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For the third time in his career, Joseph Benavidez fell short in capturing UFC flyweight gold. Matched up against Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC Norfolk, he was stopped via TKO in the second round.

Benavidez was downed by a straight right hand to the chin and never recovered. But right before that sequence, he also clashed heads with Figueiredo, opening up a gash above his left eye.

Speaking to TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter, the 35-year-old veteran fighter admitted that the accidental headbutt played a role in the bout’s outcome.

“If the headbutt didn’t happen, I feel I was getting in a good groove,” Benavidez said (transcript by MMA Junkie). “I obviously won the first round, and I think it was only a matter of time before I continued to get to my groove, continued to find more shots, continued to find even more takedowns.

“I mean, the guy was very springy and strong at the beginning, but the headbutt altered everything. I didn’t know where I was after the headbutt.”

Benavidez says that headbutt essentially became the beginning of the end for him.

“I mean, right as it happened, I didn’t even – it was one of those things that rattled you so bad, I wasn’t present,” he said. “I clearly just walked straight backwards with my hands down, and I rubbed my eye as the guy that was trying to finish me was right in front of me.

“A focused, present fighter, that wouldn’t have happened. I didn’t really know what had happened or where I was. So yeah, that was 100 percent the beginning of the end. I didn’t know where I was, that led to him swarming me and punching me, which yeah, for him, the fight wasn’t stopped, he saw blood, and he saw me obviously rocked and did what he thought he’d do.”

Even with Figueiredo’s win, no new champion was crowned that night after the Brazilian fighter missed the mark on the scales. On Wednesday, UFC preident Dana White went on record to state that a rematch between the two is likely taking place.