Anthony Pettis has been shuffled around a bit as the UFC looked to get him into a title shot, but after an injury led to the cancellation of his shot at Jose Aldo's featherweight title, Pettis is now set to Ben Henderson for the lightweight title at UFC 164.
Pettis is one of the sport's most exciting fighters, only going to decision three times in his career eighteen fight career. And he sees his style as a benefit, especially in an age where he feels champions have become point fighters. Pettis explained to MMA Fight Corner:
"You see a lot of champions becoming point fighters," Pettis said. "These guys want to keep their belts and there’s two sides of that story. Every challenger is very talented. Look at the lightweight division, everybody there is very well matched. It’s going to take a factor to change that to have somebody dominate these fights. That’s what I’m looking to do. All I can do is go in there and implement my game plan and hope for the best."
"I want be the guy that goes out there and gives the fans a show. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day," Pettis said. "You’ve got so many fight fans and so many fighters, but I like to be that guy that fight fans want to watch because they don’t know what’s going to happen. I strive to be that different fighter and set myself apart from the group."
But is Pettis right about a change in championship behavior as of late?
In 2010 the UFC had 10 title fights, with 5 going to decision.
In 2011 it was 12 title fights, again half (6) going to decision.
In 2012 the ratio shifted significantly with 9 of 13 title fights going to decision.
But in the current year the UFC has seen 11 title fights to date with only 4 going to decision.
In addition to the guys who you expect to go to decision (Georges St. Pierre) some of the fighters that have gone to decision that flipped the ratios aren't exactly known for point fighting. In 2011, Jose Aldo fought twice and went to decision both times. He went to decision again this year when he fought Frankie Edgar.
The 2012 shift to far more decisions in title fights looks likely to be an outlier than a signal of a major shift in the way title fights play out. Stiffer competition already means a fair chance it will be harder to stop an opponent, but when you add in lighter divisions -- especially the 125 and 135 pounders -- there's also a reasonable expectation that finish rates may drop as knockouts aren't as frequent at lower weights.