UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis may have been sideline with more injuries than almost the division combined, but his return is being predicted as a dominant one. He faces Gilbert Melendez this coming Saturday (December 6th, 2014) at UFC 181, and the common consensus is that he will dominate the Cesar Gracie product.
There is a reason for the hype that surrounds Pettis, and it goes far beyond just his famous “Showtime” kick. He has long been a respected and elite athlete, and his one-sided destruction of guys like Joe Lauzon, Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone are living proof. Speaking with MMAFighting.com, the UFC lightweight champion says the best is yet to come:
“I feel like he’s on his way out of the peak of his career, and I’m just entering it, I think his peak of his career, I wouldn’t say it’s passed, but he’s not starting it anymore. I’m just starting to tap into my grown-man strength, my full potential, my knowledge of fighting. I’m very confident in this fight.”
“I don’t really have an elaborate game plan or anything like that,” Pettis said. “He’s a tough guy. Good boxing. I know he’s gonna try to wrestle me. Anybody that fights me is going to try to wrestle me, take me down — Clay Guida. I’m not afraid of anything. He most likely won’t knock me out. He most likely won’t submit me. He might take me down and hold me down. The only thing I’m afraid of is losing a decision. As long as I keep that mindset to win at the end of the rounds, I’ll be fine.”
Clay Guida did famously upset the hype-riding “Showtime” back in 2011, but it was the WEC champion’s first UFC bout and he obviously had trouble with Guida’s wrestling. His defense and Jiu Jitsu from the mat has improved greatly though, and I think this could be a very tough night for “El Nino””. Pettis continued:
“They haven’t seen how my game has changed and how good I’ve actually got,” Pettis said. “If Melendez is tough enough to make it out of the first round, they’re actually going to see how good my game is.”
Perhaps we’ll see Anthony Pettis in the best form and shape of his career, or maybe Gilbert Melendez will pull a ‘Chris Weidman‘ on us and blast the champion out of the box. What do you think?