Pettis defended his title at UFC 181 on Dec. 6, defeating Gilbert Melendez by submission. During the event’s post-fight press conference at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov challenged the champion to a fight. Pettis quickly accepted. Verbal agreements are good for headlines, but they don’t hold much weight without a bout agreement.
It doesn’t help matters that Nurmagovedov is still recovering from a knee injury and is eyeing a spring return (April or May). That timeframe doesn’t align with Pettis’ plans to have a quick turnaround.
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) December 14, 2014
The 26-year-old is the top ranked contender in the 155-pound division, but timing is everything.
“I would say if Khabib is healthy right now it would probably be Khabib. But he’s not. So it’s dos Anjos,” said White following UFC on FOX 13.
Dos Anjos lost to Nurmagomedov in April, but somehow leapfrogged the Russian in the rankings. Nurmagomedov reacted to the strange ranking change via Twitter.
Everybody knows who is no1 lightweight contender. 2015 will be my year.You like it or not , I’m coming pic.twitter.com/IFefbk2XrX
— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) December 15, 2014