Joseph Benavidez was expected to be in Brooklyn for next month’s UFC Fight Night as a potential replacement for the event’s main event between Henry Cejudo and T.J. Dillashaw.
Now, Benavidez again has his own fight to train for.
The former flyweight title challenger now is scheduled to face Dustin Ortiz in a flyweight bout on Jan. 19 at Barclays Center during the UFC’s first event on ESPN+, the UFC announced Friday.
Benavidez (26-5, 13-3 UFC) twice lost to Demetrious Johnson during the longtime flyweight champion’s reign, but with Johnson’s departure for ONE Championship, Benavidez could have new life in the division. The Team Alpha Male fighter has a win over current champion Cejudo in 2016 and returned to the cage in June after over a year on the shelf, but lost to Sergio Pettis in a split decision. After a first-round TKO win over Alex Perez in November, Benavidez was scheduled to face unbeaten fighter Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 233, then in Brooklyn before the fight was scrapped for Benavidez to serve as the championship fight’s back-up plan.
Ortiz (19-7, 8-5 UFC) enters the bout on a three-fight win streak, most recently beating Matheus Nicolau via first-round knockout in July. He’s faced Benavidez before, losing a unanimous decision in 2014.
The promotion’s return to Brooklyn marks both the first UFC card of 2019 as well as its first event on ESPN+, the streaming-only subscription service launched earlier this year by ESPN, which takes over as the mixed martial arts promotion's broadcast partner after 2018. According to a UFC press release, early prelims and main card bouts will stream on ESPN+, while prelim bouts will air on ESPN.