Injured UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis Targets July Return, Hopes To Get Nate Diaz

By Rick LaFitte
Anthony Pettis
Benny Sieu USA TODAY Sports

UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis is going to be on the sidelines for 6-8 months as he is set to undergo surgery later this month to repair a torn PCL. He suffered the injury in his title-winning performance against Benson Henderson at UFC 164.

The extent of the injury scuttled a planned title defense against Josh Thomson at UFC on FOX 9. Pettis, who was a guest on the latest edition of UFC Tonight, indicated he was hoping to be ready to make his first title defense in July.

The champion also expressed an interest in fighting Nate Diaz. Diaz took a big jump up to no. 5 in the UFC’s 155-pound rankings after his first-round destruction of Gray Maynard at the Ultimate Fighter Season 18 Finale. After the fight, Diaz proclaimed that he and teammate Gilbert Melendez were the top two lightweight fighters in the world. Not surprisingly, Pettis didn’t think much of those remarks.

Because of all the trash-talking, Pettis is hoping to get his hands on Diaz down the road, but there’s another fighter that he’s also hoping to face at some point. Pettis remains quite interested in a potential superfight against current featherweight champion Jose Aldo.

Pettis actually called out the Brazilian after his victory over Henderson. The pair had originally been slated to square off at UFC 163 in Brazil for Aldo’s 145-pound belt, but Pettis was forced to withdraw from that fight because of a knee injury. Aldo is set to defend against Ricardo Lamas at UFC 169 on February 1.

This latest injury setback for Pettis comes at a time when his star was definitely shining at its brightest. His victory over Henderson was the third straight fight that he had finished in the opening round, as he also dominated Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon. Pettis netted Knockout or Submission of the Night bonuses in all three of those contests. Hopefully, he will be able to return in prime form in the summer of 2014 and avoid the injury bug after he returns.

There’s no question that when he’s poised to come back, Pettis will have plenty of strong contenders who will be eyeing his lightweight belt. Diaz could very well be one of them.

Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports

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