The Turning Point: Benavidez vs. Fabiano

By Chris Nelson Nov 13, 2010
Joseph Benavidez file photo:

It took three guillotine attempts and the better part of two rounds, but Joseph Benavidez’s tenacity won out on Thursday night.

The 26-year-old star pupil of Urijah Faber was charged with a tall task at WEC 52 as he took on Nova Uniao product Wagnney Fabiano in a 135-pound affair at The Pearl Theater inside the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The diminutive Benavidez officially gave up three inches to the five-foot-seven ex-featherweight, though the height differential appeared even more pronounced once the two were toe-to-toe.

The contest’s opening frame saw Fabiano fighting from a distance, looking to capitalize on his reach advantage with long-range punches and kicks. The scrappy Benavidez appeared unintimidated by his rangy foe, authoritatively commanding the center of the cage as he head-kicked skyward and ducked inside with frenetic punching combinations to Fabiano’s body and head. While Benavidez controlled the first five minutes with his activity, he hadn’t put Fabiano in any real danger, and a mouse was beginning to swell and bleed beneath his left eye.

Thirty seconds into the second period, both fighters lobbed kicks. Fabiano’s left kick to the body missed its mark, while Benavidez’s right low kick swept the Brazilian’s remaining leg from beneath him and knocked him to the canvas. It didn’t look like much at the time -- if anything, it seemed like an opportunity for the grappler Fabiano to lure Benavidez into his guard -- but it would ultimately signal the beginning of the end.

As Fabiano spun off his back and drove forward for a single-leg takedown, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt made a white belt mistake, leaving his head high and in a perfect spot for Benavidez to snare a guillotine choke. Benavidez did just that, and then jumped guard in an attempt to finish. Fabiano rolled free, but quickly found himself in another choke, this time the modified, arm-in guillotine known as the “Peruvian necktie.”

“He kept giving me his neck, so I kept taking it,” Benavidez remarked later. “It's one of my favorite moves, the guillotine. He's a good grappler. He knows how to defend them well.”

Still unable to finish, Benavidez relented the hold, and the tide briefly appeared to turn as Fabiano passed to side control. Benavidez was not to be restrained, though, as the Team Alpha Male member twisted and powered out from beneath Fabiano. Almost as soon as he had, Fabiano left his neck wide open again, and Benavidez sunk in his third and final guillotine of the evening. Fabiano’s head secured beneath his right arm, Benavidez fell back into guard, grimacing as he wrenched the choke. With nowhere left to go, Fabiano was forced to tap out at the 2:45 mark.

After the fight, Benavidez credited his “Joe-jitsu” for the win, revealing that he regularly trains a plethora of variations on the fight-ending hold.

“I got about 10 different guillotines. We drill ‘em every single morning, so it just felt like practice to me,” said Benavidez. “It was like ‘oh, this didn’t work, let me try another one, let me try another one,’ and I finally got him.”
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