What bad luck for Team Alpha Male. Just when it looked like they could earn their first title, their hopes were dashed with a single punch at UFC on Fox 9. If anyone on Team Alpha Male had what it took to take the title, it was Joseph Benavidez.
When the flyweight division was created, Benavidez was at the top of the most shallow division in the UFC, and his only competition was fellow small bantamweight Demetrious Johnson, who was ranked just below Benavidez. They would then battle for the flyweight championship, with most experts and fans predicting Benavidez to win.
Somebody forgot to tell Mighty Mouse that he was meant to lose.
Johnson put on a spectacular performance against Benavidez at UFC 152, matching Benavidez blow for blow and earning a close split decision victory. This fight occurred in 2012, and 2012 was the year of Alpha Male title shots.
The first to earn a shot, featherweight standout Chad “Money” Mendes was given a shot against Jose Aldo, but most expected the most dominate champion in featherweight history to retain. Mendes put on a good fight in the first round, attempting takedown after takedown, and controlling Aldo against the fence. Aldo then grabbed the fence to avoid a take down, landed a vicious knee seconds later, and before the horn could sound to end round one, Aldo was already out in the crowd, celebrating with the Brazilian faithful.
One Alpha Male down, two to go.
Fun fact: TJ Dillashaw went for the title of The Ultimate Fighter a month prior to Mendes’ title shot. Dillashaw was the favourite, but was knocked out by John Dodson in the first round. Yet again, the Team Alpha Male title curse lurked.
It was then the team captain’s turn. Urijah Faber was given a shot against Brazilian prospect Renan Barao, for the interm-bantamweight championship. Maybe the “interm” in championship would scare away the curse and give the team its first championship? Well, apparently not. Faber fought Barao at UFC 149, and lost by unanimous decision. Two down, one to go.
It was then Benavides’ turn. The team member given the best odds to win a title for Team Alpha Male in 2012, but instead he kept the streak alive. 0-3 for Team Alpha Male in 2012, and it looked as though Team Alpha Male would never earn another title shot.
Then, Duane “Bang” Ludwig stepped into the picture, and all of a sudden, the three member were back into title contention in 2013.
The losing streak turned into the most dominate run for a team in the history of the UFC. The three top members of Team Alpha Male combined for an 8-0 record, with four knock outs and two submissions. Team Alpha Male had harnessed the striking power of Duane Ludwig, and had given everyone a reason to see them compete for their respective weight class titles again.
Benavidez this past weekend was given the first shot at avenging his title loss of 2012. Most people had the fight going one of two ways. Either Demetrious Johnson would out strike Benavidez and earn a unanimous decision win, or Benavidez would land one of his huge body shots, or a solid strike to the head, and finish the current flyweight champion. No one predicted that Benavidez would be knocked out cold in the first round, but that’s exactly what happened.
The Team Alpha Male curse had never been stronger.
That same night Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes extended their perfect 2013 streaks, with Faber stopping top contender Michael MacDonald and Mendes winning an unanimous decision over top 10 featherweight Nik Lentz. Both Faber and Mendes are now the number one contenders for their respective weight classes championship, and both fighters will keep a close eye on UFC 170, where both the featherweight championship and bantamweight championship will be fought for.
It would be hard to deny either Alpha Male member a fight against the winner of their division’s championship fight at UFC 170, but when they do fight for the the title again, you have to assume that questions will be raised as to if the members of 2013’s best fight camp can make 2014 a championship year.
Team Alpha Male curse, get ready for a busy 2014. Trying to make Team Alpha Male 0-7 in championship fights in the UFC is a tough task, and by the end of 2014, we could have our first Alpha Male UFC champion, if the Alpha Male curse takes it’s first loss.
Front-Page Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports