Anthony Pettis cannot wait to get back into the Octagon and defend his lightweight title.
Team Anthony Pettis tells me they are targeting a return on the July 5 card. For the record, Pettis is picking Bendo. #ufctonight— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 23, 2014
Pettis suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in November 2013 just weeks before a scheduled showdown with Josh Thomson at UFC on Fox 9.
The injury forced Pettis out of the bout, and an initial prognosis—reported by MMAFighting's Luke Thomas—declared that Pettis could be out of action six months with surgery.
Keeping in mind that this report was published in November 2013, Pettis' desire to return in July 2014 pretty much aligns with the six-month rest and rehab outlined by Thomas, right?
Not so fast.
Also appearing on UFC Tonight was Cedars-Sinai Medical Group orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Klapper, and he spoke with host Kenny Florian about Pettis' potential summer return.
His thoughts did not sound promising for the lightweight standout:
In my opinion, this is about the toughest thing you can come back for. Of all the injuries that can happen to a knee...when you're talking about the ACL or the meniscus, these are the structures in the front. It's easy for us as surgeons to get there. When you're talking about the back of the knee, where the arteries and nerves are, a much trickier area to get to, the results are not as terrific as they are with the structures we rebuild in the front. I would pray for him. Coming back in July? That's really optimistic.
With Pettis' extensive history—which is outlined here by B/R's Duane Finley—it would be wise to err on the side of caution in this case, ensuring that everything is fully healed and ready to roll on fight night.
Pettis has already missed a substantial amount of time due to injury in his young career, and as the UFC lightweight champion, he simply cannot afford to keep missing time and cancelling bouts.
The entire situation recalls former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz's well-documented injury struggles. Things carried on so long for Cruz that he eventually had to relinquish his belt and step back in line to fight for the title.
As one of the most explosive, entertaining and promising fighters on the UFC's roster, to see the same happen to Pettis would be nothing but a shame.