Anthony Pettis dropped out of his featherweight title shot with Jose Aldo last week due to a knee injury, but after being told he could heal up earlier than expected he’s now trying to muscle into a lightweight title fight instead.
Pettis told the UFC 161 post-fight show on Fuel TV that he could be ready to fight by the end of August and so he’s now campaigning to replace TJ Grant against Ben Henderson at UFC 164.
“With all due respect to T.J. Grant, Milwaukee is my town, and the fight with Ben is the fight everyone has wanted for years,” Pettis said.
The fact that Pettis is the last fighter to defeat Henderson when they were both fighting for WEC and that he’s from Milwaukee where UFC 164 will be held certainly strengthens his case, but speaking to Ariel Helwani on Fuel TV, TJ Grant admitted this was the first he was hearing about it and as far as he was concerned the originally scheduled fight is still on.
Meanwhile, Dana White didn’t appear to be overly keen to entertain the idea. He believes that Pettis is trying to rush his recovery and points out that it’s only the fighter’s therapist who believes he can make that date – the UFC’s official doctor has already assessed him and believes he needs a six week layoff before training again.
White is going to fly Pettis into Las Vegas for a second opinion, but there’s no indication at this stage that they have any intention of having him replace Grant regardless of the outcome of this new assessment.
Honestly, while Henderson Vs Pettis would be a bigger fight and one I’d very much like to see, I do feel this is poor sportsmanship from Pettis.
Admittedly he himself has been unfortunate to miss out on a number of title shots now for one reason or another, but that’s no reason to attempt to do the same thing to someone else.
While Grant isn’t as big of a draw as Pettis he’s more than earned his shot at the title after an impressive five fight winning streak that culminated with a KO win over former No.1 contender Gray Maynard.
On the other hand, Pettis is only on a three fight unbeaten run. In all fairness he’s looked excellent during that period, but it’s not enough to justify this kind of upheaval. It just wouldn’t be fair to Grant.
White’s indicated that Pettis could get either the winner of Jose Aldo Vs The Korean Zombie at featherweight or Henderson Vs Grant at lightweight next and that seems like the best solution to this, even if it does mean that ‘Showtime’ has to wait a few more months to get back into the Octagon again.