In today's MMA landscape, fighters are changing weight classes more than ever and for a myriad of reasons. When the UFC introduced the featherweight division, a flood of title-chasing and unsuccessful lightweights filled the division.
So when a fighter refuses to drop down just to chase a title, it's commendable to see someone stick it out in their division. However, in a case like Anthony Pettis, is he making the right decision?
Pettis, a former No. 1 contender by virtue of winning the WEC lightweight championship, has already lost out on one opportunity to vie for the 155-pound strap when he elected to fight Clay Guida rather than sit around and wait for the Gray Maynard-Frankie Edgar III winner.
Pettis lost that fight after being out-grappled by Guida throughout the fight. Pettis rebounded nicely with two impressive victories over Jeremy Stephens and Joe Lauzon.
After the impressive finish of Lauzon, as reported by Yahoo! Sports, Dana White speculated that Pettis could be in for a rematch with newly minted lightweight champion Benson Henderson. However, outcry for a rematch between Henderson and former champion Frankie Edgar prevailed, and Pettis was once again upstaged for a rematch.
Pettis is now left with the same situation: Should he wait for a title match or take on another opponent and risk falling down the ladder again?
Even if Pettis elects to wait, the winner of the upcoming bout between Jim Miller and Nate Diaz lurks as a serious threat to leapfrog him in the pecking order, so waiting is probably not a legitimate option.
This time a third option exists. Pettis could and perhaps should drop to 145 and challenge pound-for- pound lynchpin Jose Aldo.
While Pettis apparently has no interest in dropping and has been connected to rumors that he is a possible opponent for Gilbert Melendez for a future Strikeforce card, the appeal to leaving the No. 1 MMA promotion in the world is not apparent.
It would appear that that the most enticing option for Pettis would be to drop down to fight Aldo.
He would certainly be doing the UFC a favor.
Since coming over to the UFC from WEC, Aldo has been a dominant champion at 145, practically clearing out the division. A match with Hatsu Hioki is a possibility, but Pettis is a much more recognizable and intriguing matchup.
The upside is clear. A win gives him the UFC title that Pettis desires and could even set him up for a champion vs. champion superfight with whomever holds the lightweight belt at the time.
A loss probably does way less damage to Pettis' standing in the lightweight division than losing to a fellow lightweight contender.
In essence, Pettis has everything to gain and very little to lose by dropping down to challenge Aldo.
While Pettis deserves respect for choosing to stay the course and earn his way to the title at his longtime weight division, is he really making the best choice for his career?