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/ 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

Bleacher Report MMA Rankings for November 2015

  • 22 days ago

Very little happened in the month of October when it comes to MMA. The UFC hosted just two events, UFC 192 and the stripped-down version of Fight Night: Dublin. Bellator and WSOF both put on shows, b read news >>

Holly Holm: Despite what Ronda Rousey thinks, I can handle winning spotlight at UFC 193

  • 22 days ago

LOS ANGELES — Ronda Rousey was warned on Monday that she has made a serious mistake by questioning upcoming opponent Holly Holm’s ability to handle the spotlight when the two meet at UFC 193.Filed un read news >>

MMAjunkie’s ‘Fight of the Month’ for October: A war for light heavyweight gold

  • 23 days ago

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie takes a look at the best fights from October. Check out the winner inside and vote in our poll to let us know if we got the winner righ read news >>

MMAjunkie's 'Submission of the Month' for October: A rare and scary-good twister

  • 24 days ago

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie takes a look at the best submissions from October. Check out the winner inside and vote in our poll to let us know if we got the winner read news >>

Pancrase 271 Preview

  • 25 days ago

Less than a month after their last event, Pancrase is back with another deep fight card. While the last show in Differ Ariake was headlined by a pair of former Ultimate Fighter teammates (Andy Main a read news >>

UFC Fight Night 79 lineup set with 4:45 a.m. ET prelims start time on Fight Pass

  • 25 days ago

The lineup is set for UFC Fight Night 79 a month from today, and for those who get up early in the States, your Saturday will be cleared of MMA by mid-morning.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

MMAjunkie's 'Knockout of the Month' for October is a ridiculous shot to the gut

  • 25 days ago

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie takes a look at the best knockouts from October. See the winner inside and vote in our poll to let us know if we got it right. Filed un read news >>

Caio Magalhaes: Six-month suspension, 40 hours community service for spitting on Samman

  • 26 days ago

UFC middleweight Caio Magalhaes was today given a six-month suspension and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service for spitting on Josh Samman following their bout at The Ultimate Fighter 21 read news >>

Michael Page sees Bellator title fight in future: 'Everyone's screaming for it to happen'

  • 26 days ago

Michael Page added another victory to his undefeated resume at Bellator 144 this past weekend. Questions still remain, however, about how good Page really is.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>

UFC 193 extended preview with Ronda Rousey-Holly Holm, Jedrzejczyk-Letourneau

  • 28 days ago

The UFC returns to Australia next month for what it hopes will be a new high-water mark for attendance. Check out an extended preview of the event inside.Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Vide read news >>