There appeared to be little doubt lightweights Anthony Pettis and Joe Lauzon were destined to collide in early 2012 after both fighters openly, albeit respectfully, requested they be matched up as a means of propelling one into title-hunt based on successful showings in recent performances.
Possible became probable Tuesday night when the UFC announced both sides had officially agreed to the encounter. However, rather than face off over Super Bowl Weekend as expected, Lauzon and Pettis will join headlining peers Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson in Japan on February 26 for UFC 144.
Lauzon is on the heels of one of his biggest wins to date, submitting the streaking Melvin Guillard less than a minute into their melee at UFC 136 to pick up his sixth straight event-specific bonus. The 27-year old self-labeled “computer nerd” has finished all twenty-one of the opponents he’s beaten, an extraordinary feat considering some of triumphs including victories over Mike Brown and Jeremy Stephens.
The latter is an adversary the 14-2 Pettis knows well, having fought Stephens last month on the same card where Lauzon picked up his victory over Guillard. Pettis came away with a Split Decision win after opting to play it somewhat safe in comparison to a few of his previous pairings including a superb scrap with Henderson where he landed his infamous “Showtime Kick”.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC