Bantamweight contender Joseph Benavidez is set to make his Octagon debut alongside teammate, and mentor, Urijah Faber at UFC 128 in Newark, New Jersey on March 19 on a card headlined by 205-pound champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua defending his title against Rashad Evans. Benavidez will face 14-7 Ian Loveland at the event, a well-rounded Team Quest competitor who has won his last seven fights. The scrap with Benavidez will mark Loveland’s debut at 135-pounds.
The 13-2 Benavidez’s booking against Loveland has been included in the official line-up listed for UFC 128 on the company’s website.
Loveland will enter the cage with a smidge more experience in the UFC than Benavidez, as he stepped in on short notice to fight Tyler Toner at the Ultimate Fighter Finale 12 where he eventually went on to score a unanimous decision victory. Prior to the out-pointing the Oregonian had finished five straight opponents.
However, there’s little doubting Benavidez’s readiness for the challenge. The 26-year old grappler has faced a number of difficult draws in his career including a pair of fights against WEC bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, Miguel Torres, Jeff Curran, and most recently Wagnney Fabiano. With the exception of the Cruz clashes, Benavidez has emerged successful every time he’s entered the ring and both of the defeats were based on scorecards (one even being a split decision) meaning he’s yet to be finished in a fight.