Anthony Pettis at WEC 48
If Anthony Pettis wanted to make a statement that he should be the next fighter to compete for the UFC lightweight title, he went a long way to proving that at UFC 144.

The former WEC champion was supposed to earn a shot at the UFC belt when he moved over to the promotion at the close of 2010, but when Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard battled to a draw, he was pushed out of the title picture at least temporarily.

With his performance in Japan, Pettis may have vaulted right back into that title picture.

Taking on Joe Lauzon, who was fresh off a huge win over Melvin Guillard at UFC 136, Pettis was taking on an experienced UFC veteran who had shown well rounded skills quite a bit in his last couple of fights.

Unfortunately for Lauzon, he played with fire and got burned on Saturday night.

Pettis came out in a southpaw stance to open the fight, and seemed to throw Lauzon off his attack, while the Duke Roufus trained fighter fired off kicks early in the opening round.

Lauzon struggled to get out of the range of Pettis’ strikes, and at that point it was just a matter of time before the former WEC champion went for something big.

Pettis launched a left high kick and Lauzon guessed that it was going low.

He was wrong.

“I came out in southpaw stance, I saw him biting on the left hand and I just set it up perfectly,” Pettis said about the kick.

Pettis’ shin landed flush across Lauzon’s chin, and it sent him crashing to the mat. Pettis followed up with a few more punches, but it was only because it took the referee a moment to swoop in for the stoppage.

A thunderous knockout to say the least and as Pettis climbed the cage he shouted to the crowd ‘give me that belt!’.

It would be hard to deny that Pettis has done his part to earn a shot at the UFC lightweight title, especially making the kind of statement he did on the same night where the 155lb belt will be up for grabs.

“I knew this is where I’m supposed to be at, I’m in the UFC for a reason, I’m the best in the lightweight division. I’m coming for that title shot,” Pettis stated.

Pettis won the WEC lightweight title by defeating Benson Henderson in the fight where he landed the infamous ‘Showtime’ kick. Now Henderson is competing for the UFC title, and while Pettis gives him credit for earning the shot, he’s ready for one of his own.

“It’s motivating. (Benson) Henderson did his thing, he had three great fights, I’m ready to get my shot,” said Pettis. “Hopefully whoever comes out tonight, I get the winner.”

Follow @DamonMartin on Twitter or e-mail Damon Martin.
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