Anthony Pettis, the final WEC lightweight champion, will make his UFC debut tomorrow night at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale against Clay Guida. Pettis had been promised an immediate title shot upon entering the UFC, but everything went awry when Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard fought to a draw at UFC 125.
Rather than waiting for his title shot, Pettis elected to take another fight. He chose Clay Guida. He spoke to MMA Mania/Pro MMA Radio about his thinking:
Anthony Pettis: After the title shot that was promised and didn't happen, I met with the team and they said, "well you can wait for your shot or you can pick somebody to fight." Guida fought the same night and I remember that fight, it was a big fight. He's coming off three big wins and his style is very similar to what I'd be facing after him, lots of wrestlers so I think Guida would be a perfect opponent. He has a big name and he's definitely a test. He's not an easy opponent ... I went to them and said, "If I'm gonna fight, I wanna fight Guida." I look at Guida as a top guy for sure. He trains at Greg Jackson's camp and that was a great decision for him. He's on a hot streak right now.
Pro MMA Radio: Top guy or not, I have to think that you don't choose a guy unless you think you can beat him.
Anthony Pettis: Yeah, it's one of those fights I thought like I knew I could win. Honestly, if I want to be the UFC lightweight champion, I could have chose anybody to beat but match-up-wise, it's a good fight to prepare for ... Clay as an opponent is an aggressive guy. He's tough as they come. He keeps coming and doesn't stop. He's got a great gas tank and his battery is just on full the whole time. To prepare for a guy like Clay you have to look at his losses, K-Flo and Diego Sanches, guys that beat him or finished him. The guys he lost to, he doesn't do well against good strikers that know how to use their range. His big advantage is to get body-to-body, lock you up and take you down. My big thing is to keep my range. Do what I do best. Stay in range, surprise him with my wrestling and takedown defense and just not let him impose his will. I can't let him break me, like Mac Danzig, he was just frustrated, couldn't get up and he gave up. In fights, it looks like he's doing a lot of stuff because of his hair. He holds you down and moves his head and the ref is like, "he must be working." You can't let him suffocate you. For me, it's going to be keeping my range and picking him apart.
I have no doubt that Pettis and his team made the right decision in choosing to stay active and not wait for a title shot. Whether or not he made the right choice of opponent will be determined tomorrow night in the cage with Clay Guida.