NEW YORK – If he had it his way, Anthony Pettis would swoop down to the featherweight division, steal Jose Aldo‘s belt, and then return to lightweight to take Benson Henderson‘s title.
“I’m moving down for Jose Aldo, really,” Pettis said. “There’s nobody (else) in 145 that intrigues me.”
Pettis (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) isn’t calling the shots, however. He chose not to wait for a rematch with current champ Henderson and opted to shed pounds for a meeting with Aldo (22-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC), which takes place at UFC 163 in August in Rio de Janeiro.
Now, as a condition of moving down, he must defend his belt “a couple of times” if victorious. Even though he’d like to fight Henderson after Aldo, he must wait.
Thankfully, he’s used to that.
“I’m already getting a fight with Aldo, man,” Pettis said. “I don’t want to push it too much.”
Still, after watching Henderson defend his title against Gilbert Melendez at this past Saturday’s UFC on FOX 7 event, Pettis didn’t sound so sure he would have made the decision to go to featherweight.
“That’s hard to call,” he said with a smile.
It was a call he made on a whim, when he texted UFC President Dana White after Aldo’s decision win over Edgar at UFC 156 in February. He was surprised when White jumped at the opportunity to put the fight together.
Pettis hosted an event at a club in Las Vegas when he saw Henderson vs. Melendez, and the champion’s performance, which resulted in a narrow split-decision win, reinforced his belief that he could take the lightweight belt.
“I just wasn’t that impressed, man,” he said. “It was another close decision. I think Henderson’s last finish was (Donald) ‘Cowboy’ (Cerrone) in the WEC. For me, (he’s) a great fighter, but I feel like I’ve got what it takes to beat this guy.”
Henderson now has won seven straight decisions since transitioning from the now-defunct WEC to the UFC. That’s includes three defenses of the lightweight belt he earned by outpointing Edgar at UFC 144.
Pettis attributed Henderson’s remarkable knack for winning rounds not to fighting, but to behavior between rounds.
“I think it’s his intensity,” Pettis said. “In between rounds, he’s hyping everybody up, looking like he’s ready to go. But when it actually comes down to it, he’s barely landing the hard punches. He’s barely landing any kicks. He’s doing well in the scrambles.
“Then you’ve got to take into account that Gilbert is one of the best lightweights in the world. It’s hard for me to watch that and say, ‘It was a close fight, because they’re both good.’ I come in to finish my fights, and I’ve proven it in my last two fights, and I can’t wait to do it again.”
For now, though, Pettis is excited to win another belt. Other intriguing opponents are bound to arise.
For more on UFC 163, as well as the rest of the UFC’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Anthony Pettis)