Rafael dos Anjos Gets Next Crack at Anthony Pettis, Leapfrogs Khabib Nurmagomedov for UFC Title Shot

December 14, 2014
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UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis defended his title for the first time at UFC 181 on Dec. 6 by submitting Gilbert Melendez. He had been sidelined and out of action for sixteen months due to injuries and filming the twentieth edition of The Ultimate Fighter heading into the fight.

Now that Pettis is healthy and able to compete, he’s eager to get back in the cage as soon as possible.

During the UFC 181 post-fight press conference, top contender Khabib Nurmagomedov challenged Pettis and the titleholder quickly accepted. But the undefeated Nurmagomedov is recovering from a knee injury. That opened the door for No. 3 ranked Rafael dos Anjos to jump in line and face Pettis next.

At UFC on Fox 13 in Phoenix on Saturday, dos Anjos knocked that door down with a lopsided win over former title contender Nate Diaz to earn the next crack at the lightweight title.

“I don’t think Khabib is healthy. I think he’s hurt. And I think as long as dos Anjos came out of this healthy, definitely him,” said UFC president Dana White during the UFC Post Show on Fox Sports 1.

During the event’s post-fight press conference, White revealed that Pettis sent him a text following dos Anjos’ win over Diaz.

“For the record, Pettis texted me right after the fight and said, ‘wow, he murdered him, and I’m ready to go. I’ll fighter either one. If Khabib is healthy, I’ll fight him. If not, I’ll fight dos Anjos,’” said White.

“I would say if Khabib is healthy right now, it would probably be Khabib. But he’s not, so it’s dos Anjos,” added the UFC president.

The match up could take place sooner rather than later. Dos Anjos said he’d be willing to fight for the title as early as “next week.” And Pettis seems to be looking for a quick turnaround.

“He’s ready. He’s ready to roll. He’s 100-percent healthy and ready to fight,” said White about the champion.

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  • powerboy55

    Good for dos anjos. Saw him a few years ago when he wasn’t even a contender and asked for a picture. His muay thai looked really gd as of late, esp his kicks.

    Also gd for pettis to be healthy now and make up for lost time by fighting again sooner. I give pettis a slight edge in the standup against dos anjos.

    • juanmaia

      You’re right. His evolution is scary… the guy is a monster right now. Few years all he got was BJJ an that was it.

  • Tommy Blingshyne

    RDA looked great tonight but my $ is def. on pettis for that title fight…i think khabib is the real test for anthony

  • Jason Priest

    Rafael has def turned the corner, but I see this as an easy fight for Showtime. I wanna see Pettis/Khabib personally.

    • Hugh Shakeshaft

      Rafael is good, but Diaz was so bad he made him look even better. I’m fine with RDA vs Pettis in March, but look forward to Khabib getting his crack next summer.

  • shakejunt

    seems to make sense. khabib is out until at least april so pettis can fight dos anjos early 2015 and winner can rest up for a fight with khabib late spring/late summer.

  • Anderson Silva

    It sucks for Khabib… Pettis vs Dos Anjos will be fun as well, but i don’t think he stands a chance against Showtime…


    what’s TJ Grant’s status?

    • Maddawgmar

      He will have to take a couple fights when he comes back. Who knows how he is doing. Over two years for a concussion, must have been a Gary Busey type of injury.

    • Lucas Freire

      Yeah! LOL
      I guess when you’re not a big name you just can’t afford waiting in the sidelines for a title shot.
      While we see guys with huge wins like RdA and Khabib how can someone put TJ Grant and his Maynard win on the title talks? Khabib won against RdA, and RdA basically cleared the top10. lol

  • uncle

    The timeline should be perfect for Khabib to fight Cowboy

    • shakejunt

      that’d be pretty perfect if he fought cowboy/jury in april and, with a win, got his shot late august after ramadan.

      • uncle

        Pretty much

  • DamianCross

    Wow, Pettis sent Dana a pretty long text… >.>

  • drkdisciple

    It’s a question of time b4 Khabib gets his title shot. There is no one ranked top 10 that Khabib can’t beat.

    • shakejunt

      definitely has the tools to beat everyone, just a question of if he can put it together in the big fight.

  • powerboy55

    Given how pettis looked against melendez, khabib shld pretty much own him with the wrestling. Goes to show how dominant a fighter can be with good wrestling. Good striking is still more vulnerable than good wrestling. 🙂

    • shakejunt

      gil was able to close the distance because he has the boxing. khabib is just gonna be winging right hands and diving in. i think pettis will be ready for that.

  • mmalive

    Showtime Pettis will make short work of RDA. A healthy Pettis will demolish any foe.

    Gilbert and Ben HAVE NEVER been submitted. What do both these guys have in common?

    Both were submitted by Pettis in forms of choke and armbar.

    RDA is good opponent. But will have extreme difficulties with Pettis.

    Pettis has much more dynamic range with his striking and footwork.

    Showtime has also showed his great ground game.

    Pettis has much more tools to utilize to beat RDA.

    Pettis by submission or KO.

  • Big Jeff

    Was I dreaming or was it reported on this site that Pettis is on 6 month medical suspension?

  • Big Jeff

    UFC 181 Medical Suspensions: Anthony Pettis Could Be Out Up to Six Months