UFC lightweight standout Anthony Pettis caused a stir earlier this year by suddenly announcing his intention to shed 10 pounds and fight Jose Aldo for the featherweight title.
The news was a surprise, not only because it came rather abruptly, but because it was given the full support of Dana White despite a bevy of viable challengers domestic to the 145-pound class. Even more intriguing was Pettis' claim that he would not stick around at featherweight but return to lightweight afterwards.
Well, it all turned out to just be a lot of speculation in the end. Not because Pettis wasn't genuine in his intent, but because he was forced to withdraw from his match against Aldo at UFC 163 because of a knee injury suffered in training.
At first though, it seemed that all hope was not lost. Pettis turned his sights back to the lightweight crown and campaigned to usurp TJ Grant's place at UFC 164. Any chance of that scenario, however, just went out the window.
That's because after meeting with UFC-approved doctors, Pettis will be sidelined for six weeks, meaning Aug. 31—UFC 164—is an unrealistic return date for him.
The news of Pettis' injury was confirmed by Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting.
While Pettis had been hopeful he could cut the lightweight line as he had the featherweight one, he concedes that Grant is a suitable man for the job.
On the latest episode of the MMA Hour, Pettis said:
TJ Grant earned his shot. I'm not going to say I should be fighting and TJ Grant didn't earn his shot. TJ 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.
It's a sentiment that many fans expressed when speculation first began that Pettis might be handed the opportunity. Grant's recent run has been extremely impressive, and there isn't much of a case beyond Pettis being a bigger name or having a stronger reputation that can be made to justify swapping him in.
But now it's a moot point.
Pettis' featherweight loss is Chan Sung Jung's gain, and his extended injury-induced absence will preserve Grant's spot in the lightweight pecking order.
So while it's clear that "Showtime's" title aspirations will have to wait a bit, it will be curious to see what the UFC does with him when he is once again able to compete.
Will he be ushered into an immediate title fight at 145? Or maybe 155? Or will he have to win a bout before getting his chance at UFC gold?
We shall see.
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