Dana White: 'Badass' Anthony Pettis set for stardom barring additional injuries

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

UFC president Dana White feels that lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will be the next UFC fighter to 'explode' into stardom – if Pettis can stay healthy

In 2010, Anthony Pettis fought four times. Pettis won all of those fights, capping the year by defeating Benson Henderson via unanimous decision to become the WEC lightweight champion. Since that run, Pettis has fought only five times. The main cause of Pettis' inactivity has been a growing list of injuries. According to UFC president Dana White, those injuries are the only thing standing between Pettis and stardom.

Pettis (17-2) became the UFC lightweight champion in August 2013 when he became the first fighter in the WEC/UFC to stop Henderson by submission, doing so at the 4:31 mark of Round 1. The champion is not expected to fight again until the UFC's final 2014 event after undergoing surgery to repair a damaged torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).

Pettis' opponent in that fight will be the man he will coach opposite of for the upcoming season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter, No. 1 ranked UFC lightweight Gilbert Melendez (22-3).

White, speaking to the media following Saturday's UFC Fight Night in Cincinnati said that he thinks Pettis, barring any additional injuries, will be the next fighter to "explode" with fight fans.

The UFC boss added, "Pettis is such a badass - unbelievably talented fighter. I love his attitude. I love everything about that kid, and it is truly an honor to watch that kid perform. The running off the cage, the bouncing off the cage and the knee to ‘Cowboy' Cerrone, (he) beats Ben Henderson in the first round when Ben Henderson fought the who's who in that division and they all went to decisions."

After fighting three times between June 2011 and February 2012, Pettis was out of action until January 2013 recovering from various maladies. When he did return to the Octagon he stopped Donald Cerrone with a brutal kick to the body at 2:35 of Round 1 of their UFC on Fox 6 contest.

Pettis was then expected to face Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title in July, but Pettis was forced from that fight with a knee injury. After recovering from the injury, Pettis defeated Henderson for the UFC lightweight title. Pettis was set to defend that title in December, but the knee injury kept him from that defense. Pettis would undergo surgery for the PCL injury in late 2013.

Pettis is expected to face Melendez on the final UFC card of 2014.

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