Henderson was slated to defend his title against Grant, but the Canadian fell out of the fight due to an injury.
Stepping into his place is former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, who had given up his slot as the lightweight No. 1 contender to drop down to 145 pounds and challenge Jose Aldo. Pettis, however, had to withdraw from the Aug. 3 Aldo fight due to an injury, but is far enough along in his recovery to be ready for Henderson on Aug. 31 and steps back into the lightweight championship bout.
Henderson and Pettis have some history. Henderson had been the WEC lightweight champion and riding a 10-fight winning streak before he ran into Pettis at WEC 53, the final event in the promotion’s history before being merged into the UFC.
Pettis landed the now infamous Showtime kick, bouncing off of the cage wall, in that fight en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Henderson hasn’t lost since, racking up seven consecutive victories and taking possession of the UFC lightweight championship.
He always knew that he would one day face Pettis again, but didn’t expect that day to come so soon.
“At some point in time, I knew we were gonna dance again. I was gonna be able to get my hands on Anthony,” Henderson recently said in an interview on Inside MMA. “Turns out, I’m gonna get my hands on him a little sooner than I thought.
“Looks like I got Anthony next. Gonna get my hands on him, after that it’ll be TJ.”
Always calm, cool, and collected, Henderson looks forward to fighting Pettis again, possibly avenging the only blemish on his professional record since 2007, but it doesn’t define his career.
And, as champion, it’s not up to him to pick and choose his opponents.
“I’ve definitely been waiting to get my hands on Pettis again,” said Henderson. “It’s not for me to say this guy earned that. You’ve got to earn way to a title shot.
“(But) I’m excited for it. I go in there and beat guys up.”
© 2013 MMA Weekly All Rights Reserved.