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

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Valentina Shevchenko and UFC on FOX 23's other winning fighters?

  • 25 days ago
  • 22 views

With another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC on FOX 23’s winning fighters read news >>

UFC on FOX 23 reactions: Winning and losing fighters on social media

  • 25 days ago
  • 56 views

Following Saturday’s UFC on FOX 23 event in Denver, several of the winning and losing fighters took to social media to react to the event or share a message with supporters.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

UFC on FOX 23 medical suspensions: Headliner Julianna Pena among possible 6-month sits

  • 23 days ago
  • 8 views

UFC on FOX 23’s Julianna Pena came up short in her bid to earn a title shot, and she may now have to sit out a potential six months to compete again.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

UFC heads to Kansas City for first time for UFC on FOX 24, including Namajunas-Waterson

  • 12 days ago
  • 2 views

A marquee women’s strawweight bout will take place at UFC on FOX 24 in April when former UFC title challenger Rose Namajunas takes on former Invicta FC champ Michelle Waterson.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

McCall pulled from UFC 208 bout

  • 13 days ago
  • 3 views

Flyweight contender Ian McCall has been removed from tonight’s UFC 208 bout against Jarred Brooks due to illness. read news >>

Namajunas vs. Waterson, 3 Other Bouts, Revealed for UFC on FOX 24 | MMAWeekly.com

  • 12 days ago
  • 4 views

The Ultimate Fighting Championship officially announced UFC on FOX 24 on Saturday night, revealing four bouts for the card. read news >>

Holly Holm Sees a Rematch with Germaine de Randamie as 'Warranted' | MMAWeekly.com

  • 11 days ago
  • 13 views

Holly Holm’s evening at UFC 208 didn’t end like she wanted. She thought she won a five-round fight and would be crowned featherweight champion. read news >>

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Germaine de Randamie and UFC 208's other winning fighters?

  • 11 days ago
  • 11 views

With another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC 208’s winning fighters.Filed read news >>

Brock Lesnar Informs UFC of Retirement from MMA, Removed from Drug Testing Pool

  • 9 days ago
  • 4 views

Brock Lesnar's mixed martial arts career appears to be over. A UFC spokesperson on Tuesday told MMA Fighting's Marc Raimondi the former UFC heavyweight champion informed the company of his retirement read news >>

UFC Fight Night 105's Cezar Ferreira: 'I can break' Elias Theodorou and become elite

  • 8 days ago
  • 2 views

Cezar Ferreira, currently on a three-fight winning streak, is making the trek to Canada looking to break into an echelon of success he’s yet to experience in the 185-pound division.Filed under: News, read news >>