Joseph Benavidez has endured some tough battles both physically and mentally.

The multiple-time UFC title challenger has been questioning his standing in MMA after a string of defeats that have plagued the last year of his career. Benavidez (28-7 MMA, 15-5 UFC) most recently came up short in a unanimous decision against top flyweight contender Askar Askarov this past Saturday at UFC 259. It was his third consecutive defeat, as he had lost twice to current 125-pound champion Deiveson Figueiredo in attempts to capture UFC gold.

At 36 and having competed in MMA since 2006, it seems doubt about his ability to compete among the best has started creeping into his mind. In a candid conversation with wife Megan Olivi on their “At Home with Benalivi” podcast, Benavidez opened up about his feelings toward the current state of his career.

“If talking about everything, I just couldn’t find the adrenaline, the excitement and explosiveness,” Benavidez said. “It’s a tough realization because I feel like why couldn’t I find that? You come to this point I think in every sport that you just feel like you’re not the same person in there anymore. I’m not who maybe I used to be in there and I’ve had those thoughts a long time, you know, fighting for 15 years.

“I’ve even had it in practice leading up to this sometimes, but practice is practice. Day in and day out, sometimes you have a good day, sometimes you have a bad day. But yeah, in the fight that’s how I felt. Some of the things that came so naturally to me like the scramble, like I’m mister scramble. And I see in the second round I got held down, and that was never a worry for me because taking me down is like taking yourself down – it’s pretty hard to hold me down. It wasn’t a thing (I worried about).”

Prior to the string of defeats, Benavidez was 9-1 with his lone defeat a split decision to Sergio Pettis.

Benavidez is a pioneer of the UFC flyweight division. He’s the first fighter to pick up a win in the weight class and the only fighter from the original four that lunched the weight class who’s still in the organization.

Benavidez is unsure of what will come next, as he remains hesitant to make any calls on his future in MMA.

“I thought I could get out of that disappointment (from the losses to Figueiredo), win, knock this guy off, and show I can compete at the top and have that rare opportunity to walk away on top, or at least still competing with the best, which I have always done in my career,” Benavidez said.

“I thought I could avoid that inevitable disappointment and just somehow get it. It’s just hard. Not that if I would’ve won or lost had anything decided as far as my future goes. You win and you still feel good. I never had a plan in mind. I wanted this year to have a fight or two, and we’ll see how it goes. It was just about having fun.”