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.