UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis has had a pretty rough time since joining the UFC, in terms of injuries at least. ‘Showtime’ had his career highlight as he snatched the belt from Benson Henderson at UFC 164, but once again fell victim to a leg injury that has seen the champion sidelined since winning the title on home soil last August.
That night in Milwaukee may be the start of a legendary championship reign for Pettis, but there we are yet to see that thanks to the knee injury. Currently booked in to face Gilbert Melendez after they finish filming season 20 of TUF, ‘Showtime’ stopped by to discuss his rehab from the DL to MMAFighting.com:
“We had a sparring session and I felt good. Definitely, I wouldn’t say it was 100 percent. I still feel like I’m second guessing the knee, but it’s still fresh off. I think with two months of kicking, I’ll be back normal.I got to heal everything. Every time I was doing a fight, there was something bothering me. As a mixed martial arts athlete, there’s so much that goes into it from the conditioning side, the boxing, the kickboxing, the jiu-jitsu. The way I fight, it’s very athletic. So it’s hard to say what caused the injuries or what’s making the injuries happen, but definitely, this next camp, I’m going to do it a little smarter, a little less involved with the sparring and a more involved with technique.”
The injury and subsequent lay off for ‘Showtime’ came at a point where fans were becoming frustrated with the amount of injuries in MMA. Some felt that athletes were training too hard, and it seemed that Pettis bore the brunt of some anger when he signed to coach opposite Gilbert Melendez on the newest season of The Ultimate Fighter. For those critics, Pettis had this to say:
“I don’t think these guys are educated whatsoever,” Pettis said in response. “The TUF gig is something I didn’t choose to happen. The UFC chose that. I’m not going to say no to an opportunity like that. That signs me up for three months filming for that, so that’s why the fight got pushed back all the way. I could be ready to fight by August, at the latest. From now to August, if I started a training camp, I could be ready to go.But that’s what [the other lightweights] are supposed to do as well. The division needs to somehow keep themselves relevant. The main guy doing it, Ben Henderson, I beat him twice, so he can talk all he wants. He’s going to have to wait his turn. There’s a couple guys that can talk and I guess they deserve their shot, but at the same time, I was in the same position as them guys. I was talking and I was trying to make my case to get that title shot.”
Talk of holding up the lightweight division appears to have fallen on deaf ears, as far as Pettis is concerend, and could he really have helped this situation? An injury is an injury, but then the question still remains as to why he didn’t sign to fight again before commencing filming for TUF 20. Perhaps the timing wasn’t right, or the UFC didn’t want to risk either ‘Showtime’ or ‘El Nino’ picking up a loss in the meantime. What’s your take on the situation?