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Former WEC, UFC title challenger Joseph Benavidez retires

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The 37-year-old has lost his last three fights.

UFC 259: Benavidez v Askarov
Joseph Benavidez’s loss to Askar Askarov at UFC 259 appears to be his last inside the Octagon.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Joseph Benavidez’s career is over.

MMA Junkie reported on Wednesday that the four-time UFC title challenger and one-time WEC title participant is hanging up the gloves. The 37-year-old was removed from the UFC roster, the official rankings, and soon he’ll be out of the USADA testing pool.

Widely regarded as one of the best fighters to never win a major title, Benavidez ended his career on a three-fight losing streak — the first losing streak he’s ever had. His final fight was a decision defeat to Askar Askarov, which came on the heels of consecutive title fight stoppage losses to Deiveson Figueiredo.

Having debuted in MMA in 2006, Benavidez (28-8) rose to prominence in WEC, where his knockout of Rani Yahya and submission of Miguel Torres netted him a bantamweight title shot against Dominick Cruz. Having lost to Cruz in a three-rounder the first time around, he was on the wrong end of a split decision at WEC 50 in 2010.

After starting his UFC career off with a couple of bantamweight wins, Benavidez dropped to flyweight for the four-man tournament to determine the inaugural champion. He reached the final but lost a split decision to Demetrious Johnson at UFC 152 in 2012.

Following his KO loss in the rematch vs. Johnson, Benavidez rattled off nine victories over his ensuing ten bouts, including a split decision over future champion Henry Cejudo and triumphs over fellow title challengers Ali Bagautinov, John Moraga, Alex Perez, and Tim Elliott. His final win was a second-round TKO of Jussier Formiga in 2019.