Maybe it was a heat-of-the-moment thing for lightweight contender Anthony Pettis. Yeah; that’s it. He just got caught up in the excitement Saturday night, as many of us did, while watching UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo defend against former 155-pound titleholder Frankie Edgar.
That would explain Pettis’ decision to send UFC president Dana White a text immediately after the bout stating that he wants to drop 10 pounds and fight Aldo, who defeated Edgar by unanimous decision. Otherwise, Pettis’ action would not make sense, right? He's already the next in line for a UFC lightweight title shot once champion Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez settle their dispute April 20 in San Jose, Calif.
On the surface, this would seem to be enough to keep Pettis satisfied for a while. Well, come to find out, waiting around for a lightweight title shot just doesn’t cut it for him. While Pettis remains fully committed to becoming lightweight champion, he has been in this holding-pattern position before -- remember when he entered UFC as WEC lightweight champion and was promised a title fight against the Edgar-Gray Maynard winner in 2011?
Things didn’t work out as planned back then.
“What if the guy who wins the Henderson-Melendez fight gets hurt or it’s a close decision, when does [Pettis] fight?” Pettis’ trainer Duke Roufus told ESPN.com Monday. “He’s been in that situation before. So, he’s a little gun shy about that.
“Besides, he’s coming into the prime of his life. He wants to fight now. He’d fight next week if [the UFC] gives him a body; that’s his attitude. He’d fight three more times this year if you could.”
But there’s a greater factor at play in Pettis’ eagerness to fight for the 145-pound belt as soon as possible. He is bent on winning titles in two weight classes -- lightweight and featherweight.
“He wants both,” Roufus said. “He wants to fight Aldo and then fight for the lightweight title. I’m all for it if he wants to do it. I think he matches up great with Aldo.”
This has been Pettis' plan for a while; it’s just that he has decided to go public with his agenda at this time -- plus, the timing is perfect for him to face Aldo, who has nearly cleared the featherweight contender landscape.
Pettis is 100 percent physically; the injuries he battled the past year have completely healed. And his performance in the cage has been second to none -- Pettis finishes the opposition in exciting fashion.
“The crazy thing is that in his past few fights, Anthony has been at 25 percent of his potential but he’s been able to finish his opponents early,” Roufus said. “The guy is on a mission.”
Making 145 pounds won’t be difficult whatsoever for Pettis. Nor will the weight cut hinder his speed or strength. Aldo would not be fighting a dehydrated lightweight.
“In his last three [lightweight] fights, he hasn’t had to go into the sauna to make weight,” Roufus said. “He’s very meticulous about his nutrition as well as his strength and conditioning. Anthony is a very disciplined individual.”
Not to mention that stepping in the cage against Aldo is a fight Pettis deeply wants. There is also no reason to assume that fight fans would be critical of the matchup.
“He has reached that stage of his career and life where he realizes what gets him up are big challenges,” Roufus said. “I see the hunger in his attitude and performance daily in training, his lifestyle. He wants big things and he wants them now.
“He wants to put himself up there with guys like [middleweight champion] Anderson Silva, who go out there and win big fights.”
Pettis has thrown down the gauntlet and, according to Roufus, he has no intention of withdrawing his featherweight title-shot request.
UFC has received the memo, and White is on record expressing interest in the bout.
“It didn’t cross my mind until he texted me, but it’s crossing my mind now,” White said Saturday night. “I like it, and I like Pettis.”
Aldo hasn’t indicated being reluctant about accepting the challenge. He’s a champion in every sense, no way he’s turning this fight down.
“It’s an interesting fight,” Aldo said Saturday night. “I train to fight the best.”
Aldo-Pettis: It sounds good. Come on UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, get the deal done. Make this fight a reality.