UFC Fresno Results: Gabriel Benitez Frustrates Jason Knight in One Sided Fight
After losing to Ricardo Lamas back in July, Jason Knight returned to action at UFC Fresno. Dropping to the last spot in the official featherweight top fifteen, Knight would face an opponent that’s still trying to make a name for himself. Gabriel Benitez is a former champion in four different promotions in Mexico but has lost two of his last three after coming to the UFC. His opponent, on the other hand, won Performance of the Night in two of his last three.
Early on, the fight was like a kickboxing match, with Knight and Benitez swinging freely. Knight landed the early big blows, but the fight would be stopped early on because of an apparent injury to Benitez. A point was deducted from Knight when the referee ruled that he bit his opponent, but Knight didn’t look deterred would return to his strategy as soon as the fight started again. With three minutes left in the round, Knight secured the first takedown before returning to his feet shortly after not finding a good position. The rest of the round would be spent standing up and would be mostly even, with nobody overcommitting and risking being knocked out.
Benitez pressured early in the second round and was the one to come forward and attack his opponent, but with a couple of minutes gone from the round, Knight would take him to the ground before settling for the clinch. Once they were standing again, Benitez contrasted Knight’s wild striking with precision punches that largely hit their target, before the fight was stopped for the second time. Benitez claimed that his eye was poked, which would be confirmed shortly via replay. Knight would only receive a warning, and Benitez would continue picking him apart standing up.
Knight was looking for the knockout at the beginning of the third round, but that allowed Benitez to continue having striking success as he counter-attacked. He stayed just far away from his opponent to avoid taking big damage but still struck with accuracy. As the round continued, the fight went more and more in the favor of Benitez, who frustrated Knight and then casually shrugged off a takedown attempt with a couple of minutes left in the round. Benitez also had the better movement in the round, frequently out-maneuvering his opponent and taking advantage of the frustration. Benitez would continue looking for a finish and landing big blows, including a flying knee, until the end of the fight.
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The judges’ decision was a mere formality. Benitez easily came away with the victory, by unanimous decision(30-26, 30-26, 29-27), after controlling the fight and putting on one of the best striking performances of the night. His record moves up to 20-6, while Knight will lose back to back for the first time in his career and drop to an overall record of 20-4. The result should have implications for the lightweight rankings, with Knight sitting at fifteen and Benitez being unranked.