So far, 2014 has unfolded without a performance from UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis, which any fan knows, are not typically something you want to miss. In a year where the UFC has had to do without the services of stars like Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre, the promotion certainly could have used “Showtime” earlier on.
Although Pettis has been forced to sit out all of 2014 thus far, due to a knee injury, the highlight reel fighter will return to action on December 6th, at UFC 181. Pettis won’t return to a warm-up fight, however, as he’s set to battle former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez. Who, as any serious fan knows, is as tough as they come.
Despite Melendez’s reputation, and #1 ranking, Pettis sounds pretty confident heading into the bout. While speaking to the Brazilian outlet Globo recently, here is some of what he had to say about the upcoming fight and “El Nino” (translation via Bloody Elbow):
“The fans can expect me finishing this fight in the first round. I’ve been out for a year and I’m excited to be back. I’m healthy, ready to fight and, unfortunately, Melendez will be my first opponent after my return. I say unfortunately because I’m sure that I won’t need more than one round. I have to shut up a lot of people and I have others to face.”
“Gilbert is a cool guy but we haven’t chatted so much during the season and we haven’t had any arguing. He was there to be a coach and so was I. I’m a fighter and I have a belt for a reason. I got injured and couldn’t train like I wished but I’m back. When Khabib’s time comes, we’ll fight. Now I have Melendez in front of me and that is my concern but if Khabib is next, we’ll fight.”
Less than one round huh? Considering Melendez has never been finished in 25 pro bouts, I’m guessing the lightweight and his supporters aren’t going to care for “Showtime’s” prediction here.
If Pettis sounds more fired up here than usual, it could be because he’s taken some flack for being sidelined for so long. By the time he battles Melendez, well over a year will have gone by since he tapped out Benson Henderson in August, 2013. The 27 year-old has only fought twice since February, 2012.
Nurmagomedov will likely be happy to hear that Pettis is thinking about him though, as “The Eagle” has been driving hard to the net lately in hope of securing a title shot.
UFC 181 will be hosted by the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, and will also feature welterweight champ Johny Hendricks taking on Robbie Lawler. That card should be on the ‘can’t miss’ list.