Though he was hoping to avoid surgery to repair a torn posterior cruciate ligament (aka “knee thingy”), UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will indeed go under the knife next Thursday. Pettis explained yesterday on UFC Tonight that he is looking at a 6-8 month recovery period, and when he returns to action, he wants his first title defense to be against Nate Diaz — not TJ Grant (thank God), not the winner of Ben Henderson vs. Josh Thomson*, not Khabib Nurmagomedov, or Gilbert Melendez, or anybody else who might deserve it more than a guy who just snapped a two-fight losing streak.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t Nate’s one-round blitzkrieg of Gray Maynard at the TUF 18 Finale that convinced Pettis that Diaz is worthy of a title shot — it was what Diaz said in his post-fight interview.
“Nate Diaz has been talking so much and in his last fight, he actually looked pretty decent, but it’s harder to judge against Gray Maynard,” Pettis said on UFC Tonight. “I hope Nate works his way up so we can fight…Nate’s been talking for a while. Even after his last fight, saying ‘this is the No. 1 and No. 2 lightweights in the world.’ That’s taking a shot directly at me. That belt’s in my front room. It’s there for a reason.”**
In classic Diaz fashion, Nate responded on twitter by saying that Pettis needs to work his way up for a fight against Nate Diaz. (#stocktonlogic) Though Pettis seems to think that Diaz should keep fighting and winning before an eventual title-fight showdown, Diaz would rather skip that part entirely. In case you missed it, he made a startlingly wise statement about the subject during the TUF 18 Finale’s post-fight press conference last Saturday:
“I think I’ll sit on the sideline for a good long minute until someone gets injured and I get a title fight.”
That’s as good a plan as we’ve ever heard come from the mouth of a Diaz brother. There might be loads of talent at the top of the UFC lightweight division, but it doesn’t really matter who the legitimate #1 contender is. The only thing that matters is who’s ready at the time the UFC wants to book a lightweight title fight, and who’s available when that fight inevitably falls apart.
So, Pettis vs. Diaz…you into this, or what?
* Thomson, of course, TKO’d Diaz in April of this year, and was going to get a title shot at UFC on FOX 9 until Pettis withdrew due to his knee injury. And most likely, Thomson will be passed right the fuck over when Pettis returns, in favor of a guy he beat the crap out of, because the world is a cold and horrible place.
** Pettis went on to say that he wants a super-fight against Jose Aldo at the end of 2014, but honestly, the less said about that the better. Message to all MMA fighters: Stop talking about super-fights that you’re planning on having a year from now. It never, ever works out. In fact, talking about them guarantees that they will never happen. That goes double for boxers hoping to fight MMA fighters.