When UFC fighter Anthony Pettis saw his shot at featherweight champ Jose Aldo fall apart due to injury he implemented Plan B by calling for a crack at lightweight title-holder Benson Henderson. As has been well-documented, Henderson’s upcoming defense against T.J. Grant at UFC 164 is slated to take place in Pettis’ proverbial backyard of Milwaukee and is late enough in August to give “Showtime” hope of being healthy in time for the tilt.
However, Pettis has received some backlash from fans who feel he’d be cutting in line and costing Grant an opportunity he’s earned with a respectable winning streak at 155 pounds. The 26-year old addressed the issue this week on The MMA Hour where he came off as a man willing to do whatever it takes to finally compete for UFC gold.
“I can’t believe it happened, man. I missed another title-shot that slipped out of my fingers. I felt fine, I’m a couple weeks out from the fight – probably the best I’ve ever felt…I felt invincible in training (and) I was so on point,” said Pettis. “For this to happen, it’s unfortunate. I couldn’t sleep the last couple days thinking about what was going to happen.”
“I mean, you know, I’m freaking out, I’m trying to figure out a way to fix this and looking at all possibilities, so you can’t knock me for trying, you know? It’s in my hometown,” he continued. “Grant earned his shot, (so) I’m not going to say I should be fighting and T.J. Grant didn’t earn his shot. T.J. Grant earned his shot and he’s there for a reason. I don’t want the fans to think I’m trying to take his position or anything like that, but at the same time, you can’t knock me for trying. I want a title-shot so bad.”
The 16-2 Pettis was supposed to fight for the lightweight belt in 2011 but lost out after then-champion Frankie Edgar went to a Draw with Gray Maynard and a rematch was scheduled. He ultimately ended up taking a fight with Clay Guida and was outpointed, having to start over again after the setback. He has since won three in a row and would be seen as the consensus top contender at 155 pounds if he hadn’t opted to pass on waiting for Henderson’s schedule to free up, focusing on Aldo instead as a result.