Former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis had an extraordinary opportunity at UFC 206 on Saturday night. With a win vs. Max Holloway at featherweight, he would become only the fourth fighter in UFC history to hold belts in two divisions, after Randy Couture, BJ Penn, and Conor McGregor.
Pettis lost his belt to Rafael dos Anjos Decision at UFC 185 on March 14, 2015. Then he lost a split decision to Eddie Alvarez and a unanimous decision to Edson Barboza. The first UFC fighter to appear on a Wheaties Box maintains the highest aspirations, so the only clear path up was down, to featherweight.
In his first drop to featherweight at UFC on FOX 21 on August 27, he guillotined Charles Oliveira. Bad news was he looked a little what the UG unpolitically termed “holocausty.”
Pettis was contracted at UFC 206 to make not the 146 he made for the first shot at featherweight, but the champion weight of 145, as the fight with Max Holloway was supposed to be for the interim title. When Conor McGregor won
When Conor McGregor won a second belt, he was told he had to choose one to hold onto to, and it was lightweight. Interim champion Jose Aldo became full champion but was not ready to immediately defend it, so the interim title fight was created.
The interim title fight was probably also created as UFC 206 is cursed. It was supposed to be headlined by the return of Georges St-Pierre, to the same place he set the all-time Canadian live gate record. That fell through and the new headliner was a light heavyweight championship rematch between current title holder Daniel Cormier and the fearsome Anthony Johnson. That’s a good fight, but coming between the best UFC 205 and the return of Ronda Rousey at UFC 207, it was a little weak. Then Cormier got hurt.
Instead UFC 206 was headlined by Holloway vs. Pettis, for a somewhat contrived Interim belt. And now Pettis failed to make weight. If Holloway wins, he becomes interim champ, and gets a unification fight with Aldo. If Pettis wins, he gets no interim title. Does he get a shot at Aldo? Does he give up on featherweight?
What he got immediately was a polite but firm rebuke from Holloway, via Twitter.
“Like I said before we professionals and our first job is to make weight,” wrote Blessed. “This isn’t about just me and my team it’s about the fans, it’s about the 6, it’s about the employees of the UFC, its everyone. Entire sport takes a hit because of this.
“3lbs is a lot to miss but the guy was trying and I respect that. At the end of the day, it is what it is. It sucks it happened this way but I am glad that we still get to fight for everyone tomorrow night.”
UFC president Dana White too was not impressed, during an appearance on TSN SportsCentre.
“I’m not happy, but listen, it happens,” said White as transcribed by MMA Fighting. “Believe me when I tell you, Anthony Pettis wanted to make weight. He’s been working for months for this day. He came in, when he landed here in Toronto, he was 10 pounds [over], so he should’ve made the weight. What that tells you is he’s too old and he’s too big to make that weight, is my opinion. So we’ll see where we go from here.”
“If Pettis wins, I’ve got to decide if I want him to fight for the 145-pound [title]. I don’t know if he can make the weight.”