It’s been 773 days since Anthony Pettis defeated Benson Henderson to close the book on the WEC, and earn a title shot in his debut fight for the UFC.
What no one could have predicted however was that the champion at the time Frankie Edgar would end up fighting Gray Maynard to a draw just a couple of weeks later, forcing a rematch, and pushing Pettis back in line. Eventually, Pettis ended up losing a close decision to Clay Guida, and then had to work his way back to the top of the division.
On Saturday night, Pettis not only cleared the way for another path to the title, but got UFC President Dana White on board to assure him the next crack at the belt is his and he will get the winner of Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez, which happens in April.
White reiterated that Pettis’ knockout win over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone was ultra impressive, but he won’t mess with the current UFC on Fox 7 main event and make any changes. Pettis is next in line though and will face the winner.
“I think the (Gilbert) Melendez fight is pretty set, but he’s next,” White said about Pettis at the UFC on Fox 6 post fight press conference. “I can’t say enough good things about the kid, that was incredible tonight. Obviously, his big all time highlight will be the kick off the fence, but tonight was unbelievable, the knee off the fence, it was phenomenal.”
The last time Pettis was given a choice to wait for a title shot or go ahead and fight, he opted to take a risky bout against Clay Guida, and ended up losing a decision. This go round if the title shot is locked in, Pettis will happily sit out for a few months and wait for Henderson or Melendez.
“I mean if it’s a guaranteed title shot, I’m waiting,” Pettis stated. “That’s what my goals are, that was my goal this year, if it’s next I’m definitely going to wait. (I’ll) get better, and get what’s mine.”
The waiting game is always a risky one when it comes to UFC title shots. Some fighters have waited and never ended up getting a shot due to injuries and just the way things played out, while some have waited and it paid off with a championship win. UFC President Dana White has seen it go both ways, so he can’t offer any advice to Pettis on his decision.
“I’ve seen both go the wrong way, so who knows,” White said about waiting.
It’s likely at this point because Pettis has seen the wrong side of not waiting the last time he had a title shot looming overhead, that he’ll gladly sit out for a few months and take his chances at facing Benson Henderson or Gilbert Melendez later this year.