Like riding a bike.
For nearly seven minutes on Saturday, it appeared Anthony Pettis was going to have trouble shaking off the rust. Then—for just a few seconds—the returning lightweight champion was his old, brilliant self again, and the fight was over.
Pettis became the first man ever to finish No. 1 contender Gilbert Melendez at UFC 181, snatching a guillotine choke from thin air and forcing Melendez to tap out a few ticks shy of two minutes into the second round. As they raised his hand and wrapped the title around his waist, it suddenly felt as though he’d never left.
“It’s been 15 months. A long layoff,” Pettis told UFC color commentator Joe Rogan in the cage moments later. “It was a tough last year, but I reminded everybody who I am. I’m the champ for a reason—king of the hottest division in the UFC.”