It’s been less than a week since the UFC crowned its newest champion, but even as he faces a 7 week layoff to heal an injured knee Anthony Pettis can begin to mentally prepare for his first title defense with his next opponent in mind.
Despite calling out featherweight champion Jose Aldo in his post-fight speech, the UFC has another challenger in mind for the time being. Rather than bring both divisions to a stand still, promotional officials have opted to pit Pettis against the man he replaced opposite Benson Henderson, top lightweight contender TJ Grant. Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports first tweeted the news, which has since been confirmed by a number of publications.
Grant was originally scheduled to fight for the title at UFC 164 after he scored an impressive first round knockout victory over former title contender Gray Maynard in May. He had mixed success early in his UFC career, but a drop down to lightweight led to a 5-0 run through the division. He suffered an unfortunate concussion as he prepared to face Benson Henderson, opening the door for Pettis to compete in his own town.
There is some bad blood that formed between the two competitors even before the injury forced Grant off the card, as Anthony Pettis publicly pled his case to steal the title shot out from under him. Pettis was originally scheduled to face Jose Aldo back in August, but a minor knee injury forced him out of the proposed bout. Doctors cleared him to compete again in time to fight in his hometown of Milwaukee, leading him to ask UFC brass for the opportunity to do so. It was not until the concussion took Grant out of action that Pettis was able to step in.
No date has been selected for the first title defense in Pettis’s career, but we will keep our readers up to date as soon as this information is announced. If he is able to get past Grant, a superfight down the line against Aldo sure would be fun to watch.