Benavidez: Johnson-UFC feud came down to 'both being stubborn'

Two of Joseph Benavidez's four career losses have come to Demetrious Johnson. Ed Mulholland for ESPN

UFC president Dana White had a very public falling out with his longtime flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson, earlier this year.

Joseph Benavidez believes that the feud basically came down to both sides being stubborn.

Beginning in May, the UFC wanted Johnson (26-2-1) to defend his 125-pound belt against T.J. Dillashaw in August, but Johnson declined the matchup for multiple reasons. When White attempted to pressure him into the fight, Johnson, a 10-time defending champion, released a statement that listed several long-standing grievances he had with the promotion.

Benavidez (25-4), who has been ranked just behind Johnson at No. 2 in the division for years, told ESPN's Five Rounds podcast that he can see both sides of the dispute.

"We had a former champion [Dillashaw] dropping down [in weight]," Benavidez said. "[That fight] is either going to mix things up or show how great Demetrious really is. Maybe more people would buy it. Either way, it's a big fight.

"But I know Demetrious had his concerns about that fight happening. There were a few things. Money was involved. I think what it comes down to is both sides having power in their own right and being stubborn with that power."

White has since stated that Johnson will get his way and face flyweight contender Ray Borg instead of Dillashaw.

Benavidez, 32, had a hard time guessing how he would react to the situation but said he understands the stance Johnson took, considering everything he has accomplished in the UFC.

"Demetrious has his right," Benavidez said. "He's the best fighter ever. He's tied with [Anderson Silva] for the most title defenses, and he's going to break that record.

"Of course, he's like, 'I should get whatever I want.' When he didn't get it, I think it was a matter of being stubborn and both sides not meeting. I don't think either side is really wrong. You could say, 'Demetrious, take the fight. That's your job.' There's another side where you can defend him and his mistreatment."

Johnson said the UFC went so far as to threaten to abolish the flyweight division if he didn't accept the Dillashaw fight. White went on to publicly say that the UFC has considered that for years. Benavidez said he isn't concerned, though.

"It was weird timing," Benavidez said. "If that's been happening for three years, it's funny that it's just mentioned when you and your champion are going through this feud."

Benavidez is currently sidelined from ACL surgery in May. He is hoping to return to the cage by March 2018.

Both of Benavidez's title losses have come against Johnson. When asked if he needs a third shot at the dominant champ for his career to be complete, Benavidez said yes.

"Yeah, 100 percent," he said. "Plain and simple. That's the only fight I really want."