Benavidez out to show he's for real in WEC debut

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Joe Benavidez already has enough to concern himself with in his debut for World Extreme Cagefighting on Dec. 3. After all, he's going to be taking on a very tough Danny Martinez. Benavidez trains with Urijah Faber and is considered to be a talented bantamweight competitor with a lot of hype behind him due to his famous training partner.

Benavidez is currently 8-0 in his mixed martial arts career. His last fight came in July against Junya Kudo in Dream, a late replacement for Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto. He enjoyed fighting for Dream, but when the WEC came knocking at his door, it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

"I had another fight on the Dream contract and I planned on doing that," explained Benavidez. "Even a tournament that they talked about. More and more opportunities came up and I just picked the best one. The WEC was the best choice for me security wise and everything. I talked to them and I was able to get out of my contract and into the WEC. I got my fight already for Dec. 3."

Fighting in the WEC gives Benavidez plenty of competition, especially now that the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions have been trimmed. With one of the best pound-for-pound fighters, Miguel Torres, as the king of the division and tough competitors like Manny Tapia, Brian Bowles and Martinez, Benavidez sure has his work cut out for him. That is part of the reason he joined the WEC. "That's why I did this because I want to be the best. The best are in the WEC, so that played in."

The hype that has been following Benavidez because of his training with former featherweight champion Faber has to put a little bit of pressure on him, but he also feels like it's a good thing.

"There's good and bad for me on both of them," said Benavidez. "With people seeing me and having expectations, for lack of a better word like hype. That's good because you have leverage on contract stuff. They think you are a good fighter and want to put you in against the best and showcase you.

"Also, me personally, I like to go in with no expectations. If no one expects anything out there, then people will go 'who's that guy?' Now, there's a lot of people expecting a lot of stuff from me, which is good. I like people to expect nothing, then maybe surprise them."

There are two very interesting bantamweight fights on the card besides Benavidez's and he is paying close attention. Torres, MMAWeekly's No. 1 ranked bantamweight in the world, will be taking on No. 7 ranked bantamweight Tapia. Also, Bowles (No. 3 ranked bantamweight) and Will Ribeiro (No. 8 ranked bantamweight) will also be mixing it up in the cage. Even though Benavidez is not looking past Martinez, he is going eyeing the aforementioned fights.

"Definitely. I'll be watching those," he said excitedly. "I like to watch the fights just to watch the fights, especially when there is a hidden agenda that they might be my next opponent. I'll be watching those for sure. I'm just excited to watch the card."

Martinez is no walkover fight though. He is the current Rage in the Cage bantamweight titleholder and has an impressive 12-2 record. Benavidez is happy with his debut match-up and thinks it'll be a fun fight. "It's a good style match-up because we're kind of similar. Our strengths are going to be the same. We'll see who's better. I think I got an edge a little bit on everything after seeing his fights.

"The thing is, I kind of know Danny a little bit. A few years back, he was roommates with one of my best friends in college. I ended up staying in his house for like five days with him. Now it turns out we're fighting. He was always a tough kid. He likes to be on top a lot. I'm never on the bottom, so we'll see how it works out."

A win in his debut fight would propel Benavidez right into title contention. He realizes that Martinez may very well be his toughest test to date, and he is not taking him lightly at all in his training.

"I'm definitely preparing," Benavidez said. "I think he's going to be my hardest opponent. Kid was supposed to be my hardest opponent, but Danny will be my hardest fight that I actually stand in there with."