Joseph Benavidez beat Ian McCall tonight in the opening bout of the main card at UFC 156 in an entertaining flyweight scrap.
Both men are happy to get straight down to business in the opening minute of the fight, trading kicks and punches, while McCall also tried to clock up an early takedown.
Then Benavidez really makes a mark witha flurry of strikes that has McCall is on shaky legs.
McCall’s not phased though, smiling through it and gets back down to business. Benavidez is seizing the reigns here though and continues to land solidly with punches and kicks in the following exchanges.
McCall hangs in there though and starts to work his way back into the fight in the final couple of minutes of the round, while a clash of heads opens up a cut on Benavidez’s hairline.
Onto round two andthe quick pace to this fight continues with both men looking to land hard shots, often with Benavidez initiating and McCall attempting to counter. Both men are loading up a little too much in their punches at times though which means that some of their work isn’t finding it’s target.
Mid-way through the round Benavidez starts to tighten up his striking a little and finds a home for some of his strikes, scoring points with leg kicks in particular.
Then there’s an odd moment as Benavidez drops to the mat, appearing to be going for a takedown, but he gets it all wrong and McCall pounces on him on the ground. McCall gets his back and lands a little ground and pound before a scramble ensues and Benavidez gets back to his feet. McCall’s still on him though and remains clinched up to his back until the bell.
In the opening minute of the final round Benavidez lands a punch that buckles McCall’s legs and a firefight ensues as McCall bites down on his gumshield and exchanges bombs before wisely backing out of danger with a grin on his face.
Benavidez is still getting off first in the striking battle and it’s paying dividends for him. Sensing he needs to do something to change the course of the action McCall swoops for the takedown and lands it, but he can’t keep Benavidez down and they are quickly back upright again.
Benavidez fights smartly in the final minutes of the fight, not doing anything reckless and instead working some kicks from range and picking his moments to come in with brief combinations of punches, while McCall isn’t able to find a big finish.
So this one is down to the scorecards and it’s Benavidez who rightly gets the unanimous decision victory (29-28 x3).
Benavidez looked good in this fight and appears to be brimming with confidence at 125lbs. McCall certainly made it a competitive fight though and it’s unfortunate that he’s still to find a win in three Octagon outings so far.