In the co-main event of The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale on December 3, Henry Cejudo and Joseph Benavidez fought non-stop for three rounds. In the end, Benavidez took a weird Split Decision. One judge saw every round for Cejudo. One saw every round for Benavidez. And one saw two rounds for Benavidez and one for Cejudo.
Plus, referee Yves Lavigne took one point away from Cejudo after he kicked Benavidez in the groin twice in one minute.
Cejudo said afterward that he was robbed, that UFC president Dana White thought he won, and that even some of Benavidez’s teammates though he won. Now Benavidez has responded during a recent appearance on ESPN’s 5ive Rounds podcast.
“Honestly, I expected that out of him,” said Benavidez to Brett Okamoto for ESPN. “When I hear that, I feel he’s playing the victim. He sees his fans, which, of course, no fan is going to con on the Internet and say, ‘Hey, I think the right and proper decision was made.’ People are going to talk smack to the person who won.
“Funny enough, in the press conference, I was like, ‘If Henry honestly thinks he won, I’ll do an immediate rematch. It doesn’t matter to me.’ But then [reporters] said, ‘We already talked to Henry and he said he doesn’t want an immediate rematch.’ If he really thought he won, he’d probably be asking for that.”
Cejudo did say he wanted to “take a break” from Benavidez after coaching against him on a full season of TUF and then fighting.
Benavidez also addressed the point deduction, saying correctly that it didn’t matter.
“I think people are making a bigger deal about the point deduction than they need to,” said Benavidez. “Give him back the point and the scores are still the same.
“I don’t really think it should have been taken away, to tell you the truth. I mean, it was hard for the referee not to take it because he had just kicked me and I think it was a matter of seconds later, he did it again.
“[The referee had said], ‘Do it again, I have to take away a point.’ It kind of called his bluff almost. The referee had to take a point. But me, I would have been fine with him not taking it.”