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Joseph Benavidez says Deiveson Figueiredo changed mind three times on fight

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Joseph Benavidez is scheduled to face Dustin Ortiz at UFC on ESPN+ 1. But before Ortiz put pen to paper, it was touch and go on his scheduled opponent.

In one afternoon, Benavidez (26-5 MMA, 13-3 UFC) said flyweight standout Deiveson Figueiredo (15-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) changed his mind three times on a fight at the Jan. 19 event, ultimately turning it down.

“It was a really chaotic roller coaster,” he told reporters during a recent interview at the UFC Performance Institute.

Initially, Benavidez was tapped to face the undefeated Figueiredo at UFC 233 on Jan. 26 in Anaheim, Calif. Matchmakers also told him to be ready as a backup in case there was an issue with UFC on ESPN+ 1’s headliner between flyweight champ Henry Cejudo and bantamweight titleholder T.J. Dillashaw.

When the promotion scrapped UFC 233, Benavidez and Figueiredo were re-assigned to UFC on ESPN+ 1. But Benavidez said the Brazilian didn’t want to bump up the date and declined – at least until he didn’t.

“He actually changed his mind three times in an hour,” Benavidez said. “I was in one workout, and they called me and said, ‘Figueiredo doesn’t want to fight because it’s a week earlier, but you’re going to be a backup.’ I was like, ‘Oh, that’s super motivating in my workout right now.’ But I’m just like, whatever.

“Literally 15 minutes later, they call, and (the UFC matchmaker says), ‘Oh, nevermind. It’s on. He thought it would be bad, but it’s a good opportunity, so he’s back on.’ So I’m like, that’s amazing. Motivated again. And then by the end of my workout, I got another call that he’s out.

“So I’m talking to people about my fight, but it’s changing the story every time. They’re like, ‘Oh, so Figueiredo?’ I’d be like, ‘What did I tell you last?'”

MMAjunkie was unable to reach Figueiredo for comment.

Eventually, UFC matchmakers were able to find an opponent who stuck to yes in Ortiz (19-7 MMA, 8-5 UFC). Benavidez now gets a chance to compete instead of train and cut weight for a fight that might not happen.

He’s happy it turned out this way, even if it was a little dicey for a second.

For more on UFC on ESPN+ 1, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.


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