UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis is on the mend following surgery on his torn PCL in his left knee, and is five months removed from his submission win over Ben Henderson. There was no word on Pettis' planned return until tonight's episode of UFC Tonight, when Ariel Helwani revealed that Pettis is targeting his first title defense for 4th of July weekend:
Team Anthony Pettis tells me they are targeting a return on the July 5 card. For the record, Pettis is picking Bendo. #ufctonight— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 23, 2014
Pettis (17-2) pulled out of his title fight in December against Josh Thomson due to his knee problems, marking yet another instance of the oft-injured Pettis withdrawing from a bout. He's one of the most dynamic and exciting fighters in the sport, but we've seen him in the UFC only 5 times since his 2011 debut.
Meanwhile, the lightweight division will sort itself out with upcoming fights such as Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rustam Khabilov, Ben Henderson vs. Josh Thomson, and Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Live Bear. There's also the unknown status of T.J. Grant's concussion, which has prevented him from even training.
Snagging Pettis for 4th of July weekend would certainly be ideal for fans of Pettis and for the UFC, who are also dealing with the long-term absence of Cain Velasquez after he underwent shoulder surgery. Hopefully the target is met and Pettis will bring his usual brand of fireworks (get it? Because of 4th of July has fireworks!) back inside the Octagon.
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