Lightweight Anthony Pettis will challenge UFC champ Ben Henderson at UFC 164 in August in Milwaukee. He previously beat Henderson to take the WEC title just before that organization was absorbed by the UFC. However since then fate has put very different paths before the two men.
Pettis was promised a UFC title shot for his debut but when Gray Maynard fought Frankie Edgar to a draw at UFC 125 and earned an immediate rematch, Pettis had to fight Clay Guida instead and lost via decision.
For his part Bendo reeled off three straight UFC wins (including a dominating decision win over Guida) to earn a title shot against Edgar at UFC 144. He won that one, the subsequent rematch and title defenses against Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez, all by decision.
Pettis and his coach Duke Roufus are not impressed. Here's what they said to Ben Fowlkes about Henderson's fighting style:
"I'm sure he's expecting a five-round fight," Pettis said. "He's the champ, and he knows he needs to win five rounds to keep that belt. GSP does it the same way. These guys are intelligent fighters, and they know they have to win the rounds to keep their belt. I'm expecting him to do what he's been doing. He's going to come out, do just enough to win the rounds, and keep his belt. That's his game plan, and that's never my game plan. I'm always looking to finish," said Pettis.
"Are you worried about getting kneed again, like Anthony kneed him?" Roufus said. "Are you worried about getting 'Showtime Kicked' in front of God and everybody? Are you worried about getting kicked upside the head? That's a big added advantage for Anthony, but he's working very hard to make sure he's not resting on the laurels of that last victory. It's very tough to beat someone twice, and Ben's been on the bad end of the highlight reel ever since that. He's got to be emotionally connected to that and he's going to come in very well-prepared. The (MMA) Lab and his coaches are very good strategists, and they're going to try and come up with the safest way to beat Anthony."
"I'm not a fan of that style," Pettis said. "I wouldn't even try doing that. That's just manipulating the rules of the game to keep your title. If you're truly the best, I mean, look at Anderson Silva. He got knocked out in his last fight, but I think he's truly the best because he's finished some top guys, and he does it impressively. He's not trying to grind it out and stay on top of you to win the rounds. He's out there fighting fights. That's what I respect, and that's who I want to be."
It's hard to argue that Henderson takes a more risk averse approach to MMA than Pettis. Which approach do you think will prevail at UFC 164?