anthony-pettis-24.jpg(This story appears in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)

Only one month removed from winning the UFC’s lightweight title, Anthony Pettis already is slated to return to the cage.

While his opponent, Josh Thomson (20-5 MMA, 3-1 UFC), isn’t the man he was expecting to face, Pettis (17-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) says he is looking forward to the bout nonetheless.

“I definitely think it’s going to be a tough fight,” Pettis told USA TODAY Sports. “He’s 35 years old. This is probably his last chance at a title shot, and he’s coming with everything he has.”

Pettis, 26, claimed the UFC lightweight title in August at UFC 164, where he stunned Benson Henderson with a slick first-round armbar to earn the belt in front of his home fans in Milwaukee.

Pettis was expected to make the first defense of his title against top Canadian contender T.J. Grant (21-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC). However, Grant has yet to be medically cleared to compete after suffering a concussion in training, so Thomson was awarded the slot.

The pair now headline UFC on FOX 9, which takes place Dec. 14 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. The event’s main card airs on FOX.

Thomson, ranked No. 7 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA lightweight rankings., was somewhat of a surprise choice after earning only one UFC win since returning to the promotion after nine years of competing in other top-level organizations.

Still, Pettis thinks the booking makes sense given the current state of the division.

“I think he could have used one more fight before the title shot came, but really there’s no clear No.1 contender right now outside of Thomson and Grant,” Pettis said.

“Everybody else has fights coming up, so I think it makes sense. He’s healthy. He’s ready to go, and I want to defend my title.”

Pettis is also on the mend, rehabbing from sprained posterior and collateral cruciate ligaments in his left knee, but he expects to be cleared to resume full training in the next few weeks.

He’s also balancing a busier schedule than in the past, as the spoils of wearing a UFC belt come with a host of new demands.

“I’m trying to manage my time between the appearances and spending time with my daughter,” Pettis said. “I’m adjusting to it, but I would definitely say life has changed a little bit.”

Should Pettis defeat Thomson, Grant likely would come next.

A potential superfight with UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo (23-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) also lurks on the horizon, but Pettis insists he’s not looking beyond Thomson.

“Once I sign to fight, all I worry about is the next guy in line,” Pettis said. “If I worried about the whole division, I’d never sleep.

“Right now, it’s just Thomson, and that’s it.”

Pettis hopes the unexpected booking winds up marking the start of a special run.

“I’m setting new goals,” he said. “I want to be remembered as the guy in mixed martial arts who changed the game. I think with my style, I can definitely elevate the lightweight division and MMA as a whole.

“Anthony Pettis is going to be here for a long time, and I promise the fans that I will make the fights exciting.”

For more on UFC on FOX 9, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

(Pictured: Anthony Pettis)

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Bellator 163 Results: Phil Davis Tops Liam McGeary for Light Heavyweight Title | MMAWeekly.com

  • 29 days ago
  • 34 views

Phil Davis dominated Liam McGeary at Bellator 163, winning a unanimous decision and taking the promotion’s light heavyweight title on Friday night in Uncasville, Conn. read news >>

Bellator 163 highlights: Blistering 16-second and 86-second 'KO of the Month' candidates

  • 29 days ago
  • 228 views

Friday’s Bellator 163 card produced two viable candidates for when MMAjunkie rolls out its “Knockout of the Month” finalists at the end of November.Filed under: Bellator, Featured, Featured Videos, N read news >>

El Cucuy Strikes Again! Lights Up Twitter | MMAWeekly.com

  • 28 days ago
  • 11 views

Tony Ferguson set a record for UFC lightweights, winning his ninth consecutive fight by defeating Rafael dos Anjos. The UFC Twitterati lit up the internet! read news >>

UFC Mexico City: Quick Results | FIGHTLAND

  • 28 days ago
  • 0 views

Photos by Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports? Ferguson Sees Off Dos Anjos Tony Ferguson extended his unbeaten run to nine with a victory over his toughest opponent to date, Rafael Dos Anjos. The contest read news >>

Joe Silva’s Shoes: What's next for Tony Ferguson and UFC Fight Night 98's other winning fighters?

  • 27 days ago
  • 27 views

With another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Joe Silva and Sean Shelby’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 98’s winning fighte read news >>

UFC Fight Night 98 reactions: Winning and losing fighters on social media

  • 27 days ago
  • 28 views

Following Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 98 event in Mexico City several of the winning and losing fighters, along with their coaches, training partners or family members, took to social media to react t read news >>

Leslie Smith vs. Irene Aldana targeted for UFC on FOX 22

  • 26 days ago
  • 13 views

Invicta FC women’s bantamweight Irene Aldana is octagon bound.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Photos: The best images from UFC Fight Night 98 in Mexico with brutal backfists and crushing chokes

  • 26 days ago
  • 15 views

After a month away, the UFC UFC returned Saturday for its latest card in Mexico. Now you can take a look back at the card through the lens of USA TODAY Sports photographer Etzel Espinosa.Filed under: read news >>

UFC Fighter George Sullivan Accepts One-Year USADA Suspension | MMAWeekly.com

  • 25 days ago
  • 3 views

After being pulled from UFC on FOX 20 in July, welterweight fighter George Sullivan has accepted a one-year suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. read news >>

UFC 205 preliminary-card pre-fight facts: Khabib Nurmagomedov looks to extend epic winning streak

  • 25 days ago
  • 13 views

UFC 205 is hands down the most stacked event in UFC history – so much so that the preliminary card for Saturday’s event is worthy of its own pre-fight facts showcase.Filed under: Featured, News, UFC read news >>