For UFC flyweights, Henry Cejudo and Joseph Benavidez being asked to coach season twenty-four of the UFC’s hit reality show, The Ultimate Fighter which starts tonight was bittersweet. Benavidez fell short in his title fight three years ago against Johnson and Cejudo notched his first loss in his career in his title fight to Johnson just four months ago. “I thought I was going to get a title shot,” said Benavidez. “But it turned out I was actually going to help coach people get a title shot.” For Cejudo, his loss had barely set in before making up his mind to be a part of the show. “It’s tough,” said Cejudo. “But life goes on and you’ve got to learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.”
With both Cejudo and Benavidez looking for another title shot in the future, that thought needed to be set aside in order to properly coach the sixteen champions from around the world during the season. “It wasn’t until teams were picked and I became a part of these guys’ careers, where the change came,” said Benavidez. And for Cejudo, the better he coached his team, the better the chance of one of them beating Johnson was in his opinion. “You want them to take as much from you so that they are able to become UFC fighters,” explained Cejudo. “And one of these guys will get a chance to fight Demetrious and hopefully beat them.”
The flyweight division in the UFC has needed a launching pad since its beginning and as Johnson has held tight to his title, this season may be just what it needed to grab the attention of fans and viewers alike. “I think this is the start of it,” said Cejudo. “If you are able to promote someone’s story, people will become fans.”
The Ultimate Fighter series is known for some of the most explosive television clips in history, with heated rivalries from both coaches and fighters, but as Cejudo and Benavidez aren’t exactly known for being the bad boys of the sport, they didn’t shy away from what we all know and love about The Ultimate Fighter either. “Everyone loves drama and everyone loves fighting,” said Benavidez. “So when you mix in that with the reality television portion to it, its gold. It has been from the beginning.”
The Ultimate Fighter 24: Tournament of Champions airs tonight on FS1 at 10pm ET.
Photo credit: Zuffa/UFC