Following a 17-month absence from the octagon, Anthony Pettis is eager to display his striking skills against "beginner" Gilbert Melendez during Saturday night's UFC 181 co-main event.
Pettis was initially supposed to defend his title for the first time over a year ago before he suffered a knee injury. Following a surgical procedure, the lightweight champ was selected to serve as one of the two coaches on The Ultimate Fighter Season 20, which put him out of action until after the final episode of the show in December.
Now that he has spent well over 400 days away from competition, Pettis is clamoring for an emphatic finish against an opponent who he sees as a beginner in striking.
"I think he's very basic when it comes to standup," Pettis told FOX Sports. "He's got decent boxing and he's tough. That's most Mexican fighters, they are the most exciting fighters, they are tough and have good boxing. Unfortunately for him, that's my zone. If he wants to stand in there and trade, he's not going to see me having a Diego Sanchez fight, I'll tell you that.
"I think I outclass him in the striking like he's a beginner. He's still new to striking. His wrestling's not strong enough to hold me down. Once it's on the feet, he's in for a long night. Or maybe a short night."
To justify his point, Pettis referenced his match-up against Donald Cerrone at the start of 2013, where he knocked the durable lightweight out with a body kick in less than three minutes of fight time. While he expects Melendez to be tough enough to withstand the opening minutes of the bout, Pettis remains confident that it will be a short night for his Mexican adversary.
"Look at (Donald) Cerrone -- Cerrone's supposed to be one of the best kickboxers in the division, and I ended that fight in three minutes. A couple body kicks and that was it. I was just warming up," Pettis said. "If you get a guy like Melendez and he's tough enough to get past the first couple of minutes, I think you're going to see the best Anthony Pettis.
"If he's tough enough to withstand the first couple of minutes, you're going to see how good I really am."
Transcription taken from FoxSports.com.