5 Things You Might Not Know About Gabriel Benitez

Gabriel Benitez has established himself as a seasoned mixed martial artist through 33 professional fights. The Tijuana, Mexico, native has showcased his skills in the featherweight and lightweight divisions of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Benitez will face Jim Miller in a featured UFC Fight Night 234 attraction this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. He has not competed since he took care of Charlie Ontiveros with first-round punches in August 2022.

As Benitez prepares for his first assignment inside the Octagon in 17 months, here are five things you might not know about him:


1. He was a quick study in mixed martial arts.

Growing up, Benitez played soccer in school but quickly realized he was not good enough. In an episode of Canopy Athletics Spotlight, he shared that although he engaged in various sports and video games during his childhood, he never truly felt connected with them. However, he started training MMA when he was 18, and eight months into training, he realized that he had found his calling. He felt an irresistible pull towards the sport, and there was no looking back after that. “I started doing martial arts when I was 18, and my first fight was [eight months after] I started training,” Benitez said. “From there, you know, [I felt it] like a magnet, the attraction, and I love this sport.”

2. Concern for his health pushed him to MMA.

Benitez asserted that he opted for MMA over boxing due to the reduced risk of accumulated damage to the brain. This decision aligns with the prevailing consensus within the combat sports community that MMA’s multidimensional nature is perceived to distribute impact more evenly across the body, reducing the concentrated blows to the head associated with other sports like boxing. Moreover, the incorporation of grappling and submissions in MMA allows for varied offensive and defensive strategies, potentially minimizing the accumulated damage and likelihood of other brain injuries. “I chose MMA over other sports [because] it’s fewer punches to the head,” Benitez said. “It’s not as dangerous as boxing. [In] boxing, eight, 10 or 12 rounds, it’s all punches to the head. You can see a boxer when they are like 37; they can’t talk. MMA is tough, but you learn to live with pain.”

3. He found some keepsakes on his way up the ladder.

Benitez’s successful journey in MMA spans multiple promotions. He captured the featherweight championships in the Ultimate Warrior Challenge, Xtreme Kombat, Xtreme Fighters Latino and Xplode Fight Series organizations. From a win over Antonio Ramirez to victories against Daniel Salas and Ryan Bixler, Benitez’s path exemplifies the trajectory of a seasoned MMA warrior.

4. He associates with proven winners.

An affiliation with the renowned American Kickboxing Academy highlights the standard of training and the elite level of talent that surrounds Benitez in every training session. The San Jose, California, camp is known for producing elite fighters, including former Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholders Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, Luke Rockhold and Khabib Nurmagomedov. It has played a crucial role in shaping Benitez’s skills. Benitez fought Sodiq Yusuff in a featured bout on the main card of UFC 241 and was accompanied to the cage by Cormier, who headlined the event against Stipe Miocic. “He’s a really good motivation for all of us,” Benitez said in an interview with Ariel Helwani. “He’s a team captain, double champion. He turned 40 and [was] still fighting. Everyone wants to be like him.”

5. He remains a kid at heart.

“Moggly” spent time playing soccer and video games while growing up before discovering his true passion for MMA. Leading up to his clash against Yusuff at UFC 241, Benitez was spotted carrying around a Nintendo Switch. The purpose? It serves as a way to divert his mind. “You know, it’s the way I escape my mind [and] I’m a gamer. I have a lot [of favorite games]. Depends on the console, but right now, I started playing ‘Hello Neighbor.’”

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Renan Ferreira