It’s been a rough 2015 for former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. He lost the belt to current champion Rafael dos Anjos in shockingly dominant fashion at March’s UFC 185, and things didn’t get much better from there.
Booked to face Myles Jury at July 25’s UFC on FOX 16, the oft-injured Pettis instead suffered yet another devastating setback when he badly injured his elbow while training wrestling, requiring surgery and forcing him out for several months.
After getting taken down repeatedly by dos Anjos, Pettis brought in a camp of wrestlers to help him prepare for his next bout, and the results were unfortunate to say the least. He detailed his injury on last night’s (Fri., August 14, 2015) Inside MMA:
“I brought in some wrestlers for the training camp after dos Anjos, and it was just kind of a freak accident. Just kind of braced the wrong way, elbow popped, and it was pretty severe injury.”
Now getting back to training, Pettis said he can punch and grapple lightly, but is taking his time to make sure he returns at full health to avoid complications:
“Recovery’s going good; I’m very close to returning to one hundred percent training. I’m still in the P.T., still pushing. The doc came me permission to start striking, punching, light rolling, light wrestling, so just going to take my time getting back. My goal is this next run is get my belt back, get back to where I was at, and I don’t want these injuries slowing me down.”
‘Showtime’ talked about his ideal return opponent, who would obviously be dos Anjos. But with the Brazilian champion facing Donald Cerrone for the belt in the main event of December 19’s UFC on FOX 17, Pettis is realistic enough to know that he’ll probably have to fight and win at least one more time, so he cited longtime trash talk partners Khabib Nurmagomedov and Nate Diaz as potential opponents:
“Ideal opponent would be Rafael dos Anjos. Somebody who did that to me, I wanna get that back. Ideally, that’s the fight I want. Who makes sense to get me there? I guess in that fight, we’ll see. You got Khabib out there with an injury; I think he’s coming back soon. Diaz and me have never really had a good exchange of words, so Diaz is out there. I mean anybody that is going to get me my shot back at dos Anjos, so whoever the UFC thinks is the guy to do that.”
As for just when he plans to return to the Octagon, ‘Showtime’ is still aiming to make it back in 2015, and he’s ready to step into the year-end title fight if either participant gets hurt:
“I’m pushing for this year; I’m pushing for a December return. Dos Anjos and ‘Cowboy’ on a card; if one of them get injured, I’ll be ready to step in.”