Anthony Pettis file photo: Dave Mandel |

World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight champion Benson Henderson’s next challenger appears to be Anthony Pettis at WEC 53 on Dec. 16 at the at Arena in Glendale, Ariz., has learned from multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations.

The event and the headlining matchup have not yet been officially announced by the promotion, but it is expected shortly.

Henderson, who resides in Glendale, last saw action at WEC 48 in April, when he submitted Donald Cerrone in under two minutes --the second time the 26-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt has bested the Greg Jackson-trained striker.

In January, Henderson submitted former champion Jamie Varner with a third-round guillotine choke at WEC 46 to unify the promotion’s co-existing 155-pound titles.

An avid yoga practitioner known for his considerable flexibility in the cage, Henderson has earned six of his 13 wins with a finishing hold and is a pristine 5-0 in the WEC cage. Henderson has been stopped only once in his career by second-round knockout against Chad Klingensmith at Ring of Fire 27 in December 2006.

Pettis collected three straight victories this year in the WEC, taking out Danny Castillo, Alex Karalexis, and most recently, Shane Roller via third-round submission at WEC 50 in August.

A student under famed kickboxer Duke Roufus, the Milwaukee, Wisc.,-based Pettis also touts only one career defeat -- a split decision loss to Bart Palaszewski at WEC 45 last December.

Like Henderson, the 23-year-old Pettis has won multiple performance bonuses from the promotion.

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