Joseph Benavidez has provided a line of reasoning behind the shift in location for his upcoming bout against Ray Borg.
Benavidez (25-5 MMA, 12-3 UFC) and Borg (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) were scheduled to fight at UFC 229 in October, but shortly after the fight was reported for the Las Vegas event, it was announced instead to take place Nov. 10 at UFC Fight Night 139 in Denver.
According to Benavidez, the reason for the venue change came down to Borg’s legal situation with former UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC), who headlines UFC 229 vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0 MMA, 10-0 UFC). Borg was one of the fighters injured in McGregor’s infamous April bus attack in Brooklyn, N.Y., and McGregor keeping away from the former 125-pound title challenger was part of his plea agreement.
“As far as I understand, Borg and Conor have the legal beef from New York, because Borg was one of the victims of the Conor thing,” Benavidez recently told MMAjunkie Radio. “It wasn’t anything Borg did. I guess Borg is like, ‘Dude, I don’t care. That wasn’t my thing. I never fought him on it.’ It was filed right away. It wasn’t like Borg said, ‘Don’t have me near Conor.’ It’s just whenever you get into that action with the civil system, they just file it that these people can’t be next to each other.”
Benavidez said there are positives and negatives to the situation. On the upside, he gets an additional five weeks to train for the bout, which is critical for his career. Benavidez is coming off his first loss in nearly five years (a split decision vs. Sergio Pettis at UFC 225), and now he can be extra prepared to get back on track.
The downside, however, is that the platform for his fight will be reduced. UFC Fight Night 139 is the UFC’s 25th anniversary fight card, but that still doesn’t stack up anywhere close to the Nurmagomedov vs. McGregor-headlined UFC 229, which is being touted as one of the biggest events in UFC history.
“It bothered me, but I did for the most part shrug it off,” Benavidez said. “Obviously I would have preferred something. If I would have just got the fight in Denver, I think I would have been pumped. But it was the fact they hung something in front of me first and then took it away from me.”
Nevertheless, Benavidez said he will be ready to fight Borg wherever the octagon is set up. The elevation of Denver is an extra element to consider, but Benavidez said he feels good about the fight.
“It should be nice,” Benavidez said. “I’m in good shape. I’ll still do what I have to do in preparing myself the best that I can with altitude.”
For more on UFC Fight Night 139, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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