It was the greatest night of his life.
According to Anthony Pettis, that’s exactly what Dec. 16, 2010, currently means to the final WEC lightweight champion, but he’s hoping to trump that with his UFC debut in 2011.
The Milwaukee native is still coming down from the high of the night that he won the title by defeating Ben Henderson and soon went on a whirlwind tour with everyone in the world talking about the “Showtime kick.”
The next step in Pettis’ ultimate career goal will begin this Saturday night in Las Vegas when Frankie Edgar defends his UFC lightweight title against Gray Maynard in the main event of UFC 125.
“I will be there cageside,” Pettis revealed on MMAWeekly Radio about his plans for Saturday night’s event.
Pettis is of course the next fighter in line for a shot at the winner between Edgar and Maynard.
“I think Frankie Edgar’s going to walk out with that belt,” Pettis stated. “Everybody’s been asking me this, this is the first time I’ve really said I think Frankie Edgar’s going to walk out with it. It’s just one of those things, he beat B.J. Penn twice, his confidence is crazy high, he’s looking better every fight, and he has a loss he wants to avenge.”
If Edgar is successful, he’ll already know as he exits the cage who the next challenger is waiting in the wings. Both Edgar and Maynard have had little to say about Pettis as a next contender, simply because their focus has been on each other and UFC 125, but there have been a few barbs thrown towards the WEC transfer with questions about if he’s truly ready and deserving of that UFC title shot.
Pettis welcomes the challenge.
“I love it, I love it,” Pettis said about Edgar or Maynard underrating him. “Every fight I go into I’m the underdog, I love it. Nobody still knows what I can do, there’s so much that I can do that the world hasn’t seen. Just because these guys have been fighting in the UFC and the big stage, that doesn’t mean they’re better than us, or they have better experience than us.”
The one thing that Pettis does have a hard time believing is the meteoric rise he’s made over the last 18 months. He debuted in the WEC in June 2009, and at just around two years later he has the chance to become the best lightweight fighter in the world.
“It’s crazy, even to be where I’m at in a year and a half, it’s still, it’s crazy,” said Pettis. “I’m going to take advantage of this, there’s no way I’m going to let this slip by me. I’m going to train 110-percent like I always do, and I’m going to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Pettis is looking forward to watching and studying the fighters on Saturday night, as he starts his own mental preparation for the task ahead of facing the winner. What Pettis won’t be doing is stepping into the Octagon to challenge the winner.
“Nah, I always keep it professional. This is my job; this is my profession. I want to let them enjoy their victory, whoever walks out of there the UFC lightweight champion,” Pettis said.
“I want to be where they’re at and I will have my chance.”