Current number one contender and World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight champion Anthony Pettis is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Risk your status as the next man to challenge for the worlds most prestigious title by taking a fight to bide the time, or wait on the wings for close to a year for a trilogy to play out before you see the goods?
For the 23-year-old, Pettis doesn’t think it’s in his best interest to wait while a grudge is settled. Instead, the Milwaukee native could be returning to the cage as early as May, serving under a main event pitting his two possible future opponents in title challenger Gray Maynard and current UFC champ Frankei Edgar.
Anthony captured the WEC lightweight title last December when he defeated Ben Henderson in what turned out to be one of the best fights of 2010, even cementing his own “Showtime Kick”, flooring the Arizona native with a leaping-push kick off the cage, however Ben recovered and eventually Anthony walked away with the decision win.
At WEC 53 where the title changed hands, it marked the promotion’s final event before it was fully assimilated with it’s sister organization, the UFC, and with the win Pettis secured the number one contender spot for the UFC title, which was to be contested between rivals Gray Maynard and current title holder Frankie Edgar on Jan. 1.
After a shaky first round where “The Bully” was able to floor Edgar on several occasions with heavy shots on the feet, the Ricardo Almeida protege was able to storm back and command the majority of the fight with quick foot work, effective boxing and a few takedowns of his own. The fight was very closely contested, and in the end the bout ended in a split-draw, leaving the title picture in dissaray. Ultimately, UFC President Dana White opted for the rubber match between Frankie and Gray (the two met originally in 2008 with Maynard picking up a decision win) and left Pettis with two options: wait till the dust settles, or fight.
“I think if the stars aligned and the world was perfect, [the title shot] would probably be October or November, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” said Pettis’ manager Mike Roberts, who spoke with MMAJunkie.com about his champion. “We think there’s a pretty good chance that the winner of that fight is going to take some time off. It just ain’t worth the gamble.
“You can’t take a 23-year-old kid and sit him on the sidelines for 12 or 18 months and have him doing nothing. It’s just not a good idea. We don’t think this is Anthony’s last shot. We think he’s going to be in the mix for a long time.”
So in the mean time, Roberts had discussed plans for “Showtime” to take up a fight either by May or June.
If it is in May, and if victorious in his bout, it would set up a great arc for the promotion to properly introduce the title unification bout between Pettis and the winner of Edgar/Maynard, which is also targeted for the late spring. The trilogy is expected to take place at UFC 130 on May 28. at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
So, MMA peeps, what do you think of Pettis’ decision? Foolish? Perhaps. But even should Anthony lose, he has plenty of time to climb back up the lightweight ranks at the age of 23, and he has already proven that he has the skills to be competitive against anyone in the 155-pound division. But who would you like to see him take on next as he makes his anticipated UFC debut? Sound off in the comment section below.