Anthony Pettis is on a mission to be considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, and he's willing to do two consecutive title fights to prove it.
On Saturday night just moments after Jose Aldo defeated Frankie Edgar at UFC 156, UFC President Dana White announced that he received a text message from Pettis asking to face Aldo next for the featherweight title.
It was an interesting moment, because Pettis is already in line for the next crack at the UFC lightweight title, but instead of waiting until current champion Benson Henderson battles Gilbert Melendez in April at UFC on Fox 7, he wants to keep busy and challenge a fighter of the caliber of Jose Aldo.
"Aldo is a great fighter, pound-for-pound one of the best fighters in the world, and I want to be on that list. The only way for me to be on that list is to beat somebody out of my weight class, and I think me and Aldo makes sense, cause I'm stuck waiting for the lightweight belt," Pettis told Bleacher Report on Monday.
"I wouldn't drop down to featherweight and try to stay down there and keep the belt, I just want to fight Aldo, and it makes sense for me to drop down and try to fight him for his belt."
There was a brief time in 2012 when Pettis was stuck waiting for a fight where he contemplated a move to 145 pounds, but because his teammate, Erik Koch was already in line to face Aldo, he opted against it out of respect for his friend and teammate.
"The thought crossed my mind, but I wouldn’t do it before because of Erik Koch," said Pettis. "I wouldn't disrespect a teammate like that, and I didn't even want to entertain the thought, I would have to disrespect my training partner. After the fight with (Ricardo) Lamas, it's going to be a couple more fights before he's there for a title shot, and it works for me, cause I'm stuck waiting for Gilbert Melendez and Benson Henderson, and I just fought, and I think the timing's perfect for a super fight."
The other major factor for Pettis' decision to ask for Jose Aldo comes down to his body being ready to fight. The former WEC champion was forced to sit out the biggest part of the last year because of shoulder surgery.
Now that he's healthy, Pettis is hungry to stay busy and active, and maybe even add a couple of titles to his resume by the end of 2013.
"While I'm waiting, let me get the super fight. My biggest thing is I'm healthy. Last year I was stuck waiting, I had one fight last year, and I want to fight three or four times, and I want big fights. I think the world wants to see that fight. It has the makings for fight of the year or fight of the decade, and you put two guys like us in there, it's going to be nothing but fireworks," Pettis stated.
"I don't want to leave my division, this is my home, I've been making a name for myself in the 155-pound division, I feel like I'm the No. 1 contender, but while I'm stuck waiting, why not do this super fight."
Regardless of the potential fight with Aldo, Pettis isn't giving up on facing UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson later this year either. He feels there is some unfinished business to handle there, so that's not escaping his to-do list.
Pettis defeated Henderson in the final WEC fight ever in 2010, but now his former foe has the UFC lightweight title around his waist, so he'd love the chance to face him and beat him again.
"For sure I want to fight Ben Henderson. Ben Henderson is a guy that's on my list, but he already had a bout contract signed, he's fighting Gilbert Melendez, and unfortunately for me it's a couple of months away. I've been here before, you never know what happens in these situations. Somebody gets hurt, somebody else makes a name for themselves. I'm going to try to make something happen before somebody gets in my way again," said Pettis.
If Pettis really does want to end up as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in MMA, there may not be a faster path than beating the featherweight and lightweight champions inside of one year.
He's ready for the challenge, and Pettis is excited to silence any critics left out there that don't think he can pull it off. Give him the chance, and Anthony Pettis is ready to prove it.
"I'm the No. 1 contender at 155, but I'm just that guy, I want to fight. I don't want to be chained to the sidelines. I hate sitting around watching everybody else get to fight. I'm healthy right now, my last fight was like two minutes long and I want to continue. That's what I set out to do, I had a rough last two years, and I know my potential.
"Everybody's had their opinions—Pettis is overrated, Pettis is this, Pettis is that—and what better way to shut everybody up and prove everybody wrong [than] by fighting for both these titles."
Damon Martin is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained first hand by Bleacher Report MMA unless otherwise noted.
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