Megan Olivi will break from tradition on Saturday night when she steps away from her UFC and ESPN reporting duties to sit Octagon-side while her husband Joseph Benavidez attempts to win the vacant flyweight title against Deiveson Figueiredo in the main event of UFC Fight Night 169.
Usually Olivi continues her usual reporting duties backstage even when Benavidez is fighting, and she admits that she prefers to keep busy like that in order to keep her nerves at bay.
“He was the co-main event on an ESPN card in June and I was doing live hits and interviews throughout the night, and it’s great,” Olivi told MMA Junkie. “I actually like that because otherwise everybody just kind of stares at me (like), ‘You OK?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine, he’s fighting in like five hours. I’m fine.’ Then it’s like, ‘Are you sure?’ I’m like, ‘Yes! I’m OK.’ I like being able to stay busy and stuff. But when I don’t work, I don’t watch Joe fight.
“This will be the first fight since the first (Jussier) Formiga fight (in September 2013) where he knocked him out in Brazil, this will be the first one I’m octagonside for. Joseph doesn’t get nervous, but I get really nervous, so I just feel like God gives me both of our nerves and I just carry those for the 15 or 25 minutes.”
Olivi has been with Benavidez since back in his WEC days and so she knows only too well that despite her own nerves, that he will be ok.
“I have the utmost confidence in his ability; I know how hard he works, and there’s nothing I can do to help. I can’t go in there and be like, ‘I got this.’
“I haven’t watched in a really long time. I haven’t watched a lot of his other fights back, but I will be watching this one. I’m sure I’ll have a rosary in hand, but it’ll be great. Our friends and family are all coming, so I have an awesome support system, and he is so great on fight day that I don’t have to worry about him. He’s not nervous or like, ‘I don’t know if I should do this.’ He’s not one of those guys you see backstage who is getting sick or crying or anything like that. He’s genuinely so excited and can’t wait to go out there that it does make everything so much easier for me.”
Nevertheless, Olivi knows how much is riding on this fight, with Benavidez finally having a chance to cement his legacy by becoming a champion.
“It just solidifies that Joe is one of the best,” Olivi said. “Oftentimes they say, ‘Oh, he’s the best UFC fighter to never have a belt.’ The belt is just an object that shows, yes you are the best in this division. But I think there’s been many times that Joseph has been the best. He’s been in the WEC bantamweight, UFC bantamweight, not to mention flyweight once they created the division. I don’t think people have ever looked at him and been like, ‘Oh, he’s not that good.’ He’s always been one of the best. He’s in the top two or three of two divisions for over 10 years.
“It puts a final stamp on it like, ‘Yeah, your name goes on that list of champions.’ He says there’s an extra line on your Wikipedia page. But I think professionally, it does so much for Joseph. And I think personally, yeah, he would be really happy and he would be really bummed if somehow it didn’t work out. I think he’s such a whole person and has so much to offer, that adding that belt on top would be a really beautiful thing.”