From the sound of things, Joseph Benavidez decided to retire from mixed martial arts competition some time ago, but he only just recently made the decision official with the UFC.
The news was revealed on Wednesday, that the four-time flyweight title challenger had been removed from the UFC roster and rankings—sparking questions about whether this was a release or retirement. It would turn out to be the latter, with an initial report of Benavidez’s decision to hang up his gloves – via Nolan King and Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie – confirmed by the fighter’s wife and ESPN broadcast team member Megan Olivi.
Benavidez had not spoken publicly about his decision until sitting down with TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter, where he explained his delay in announcing the move.
“It just kind of came very sudden,” said Benavidez. “I’ve actually known I was going to retire for a while, but you have to make if official, I guess, to retire and do all that stuff like tell the people that it concerns like [UFC matchmaker] Mick Maynard, that you’re going to retire and USADA and all that. So I actually just kind of had to do that yesterday because I was bored and I was like, ‘I should probably make this official’. I’ve kind of been retired, in a way.
“So I talked to Mick and then he was like, ‘Yeah, you’ll probably be out of the rankings here soon, so people will kind of know what’s happening’. I said cool and he said it’ll probably be until Monday and then I got out of a workout, and I had a few people messaging me and I was like, ‘Well, here we go. That’s how it is.’ So, in all honesty, I hadn’t even had time to really post and really take it all in.”
Since the news has come out, Benavidez says he’s received an outpour of love and support from fans, pundits and prominent figures in the MMA community. UFC president Dana White released a statement to ESPN and honored him with the distinction of being “a pillar of the lighter weight divisions for years.”
Benavidez revealed that he was entirely overcome with emotion upon reading these tributes, and said that he will post his own once he reflects on his career.
“I’ve just been looking at everyone’s messages and a lot of the posts,” said Benavidez. “I’ve known I’ve been retired, so I didn’t also think it was going to be an emotional thing. But reading a bunch of stuff, I was crying in the backyard, so yeah. Its been a good day. I haven’t been able to put anything out myself yet, I feel like there will never be anything good enough. Like if I have a hard enough time posting what picture I think is the best, it’s going to be really hard to put into words just how much 15 years of this and everyone’s support has meant.
“Maybe I’ll just keep it simple and I’ll put up a random picture like I usually do,” he continued. “I’m not a big poster, but yeah. That’s another reason. I feel like nothing can really sum this up in words or pictures, I guess. How I feel about what I’ve been able to do and accomplish and the people I’ve been able to meet and how grateful I am for all of it in the last 15 years.”
‘Beefcake’ ended his professional career with a record of 28-8.