UFC Norfolk: Joseph Benavidez on his past substance abuse issues

Photo: Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
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UFC Norfolk — On Wednesday, Joesph Benavidez (28-5 MMA, 15-3 UFC) sat down with ESPN’s Brendan Fitzgerald to discuss his upcoming title fight this Saturday, Feb. 29, against Deiveson Figueiredo (17-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC).

During the interview, Benavidez touched on his past substance abuse issues and why he feels grateful for everyday and to be in the position he’s in.

Fitzgerald asked Benavidez what the secret has been to his longevity and the answer he gave was something that many people can take inspiration from and learn from.


“I have seen another side in like another life, and I kinda know what that consists of, so I do feel lucky,” said Benavidez. “It’s not like I just grew up and like everything’s been good,” he added. “Like I’m grateful I’m not where I was 15 years ago.”

Fitzgerald asked Benavidez if he wouldn’t mind sharing the story of where he was 15 years ago, this is what he had to say.

“I’m glad I’m not where I was 15 years ago, (which) was basically me abusing drugs and alcohol on a daily basis. I mean daily, all day, everyday, for a long time, for years, starting as a teenager,” said Benavidez.

“That gives me some perspective also. Just like, ‘ah I feel lucky I’m here in the UFC Performance Institute, I feel lucky I left my house in a nice car,’ you know, ‘I feel lucky I’m married to an amazing wife.’ Like stuff like that.”


Benavidez, 35, fought for the first UFC flyweight title back in September of 2012 against former champ, Demetrious Johnson. He is one of the last standing flyweights from his era to still be competing in the UFC today, and the only one to still be competing at the championship level.

Benavidez gets his third crack at the UFC flyweight title, Saturday, Feb. 29, at UFC Norfolk. He’s going into the fight with no expectations on what will happen. Win, lose or draw, Benavidez is happy with the body of work he’s put out throughout his career and says winning the title would just be another notch on his Wikipedia page and validating to him that he was the best flyweight fighter in the world at one given time.

The event will be streamed exclusively on ESPN+.


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