A shoulder injury shelved Anthony “Showtime” Pettis for nearly a year. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Anthony Pettis was guaranteed a title shot when he entered the Ultimate Fighting Championship as the World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight champion in 2011. Two years later, his wait goes on.
Pettis will lock horns with Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts standout and fellow WEC alum Donald Cerrone in a featured lightweight battle at UFC on Fox 6 this Saturday at the United Center in Chicago. The winner will move himself into prime position for a crack at 155-pound gold, though Pettis -- who lost his promotional debut to Clay Guida, along with the opportunity the UFC had promised him -- has learned not to count his chickens before they hatch.
“I didn’t get my title shot, but here I am two years later,” he said during a pre-fight media call. “I believe everything happens for a reason, and Guida exposed a hole in my game. I’m not worried about title shots right now. I’m just worried about getting Ws under my belt after a year off.”
Pettis last fought at UFC 144 in February, when he knocked out “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 semifinalist Joe Lauzon with a scintillating first-round head kick at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. A shoulder injury, which required corrective surgery, has kept him out of commission ever since.
“A year off is a long time,” Pettis said. “It was tough being on the outside looking in. A guy like Cerrone is a great guy to prove myself against.”
Cerrone will carry a two-fight winning streak into the cage. The 29-year-old last appeared at UFC 150 in August, when he needed a little more than a minute to dispatch former teammate Melvin Guillard at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Cerrone has not endeared himself to Pettis, having publicly needled the 25-year-old Roufusport representative while he was sidelined.
“For him to be calling me out while I’m injured, it sucks,” he said. “I couldn’t really take fights. I had a surgery and took a while to recover. I want to fight. I come here to fight. I’m not a guy that runs -- ever. I’m not afraid of anybody in the division.”
Pettis and Cerrone have combined for 27 finishes in 40 professional fights between them. Most expect fireworks to ensue once they put all the pre-fight rhetoric behind them.
“We’re here to sell the fight,” Pettis added. “The fight’s sold. I’m going to fight, and we’re here to bang. Everyone knows I’m a flashy fighter and they have a chance to prepare for it. We’ll see what happens.”
Teixeira on a Rampage
On the cusp of stardom and a Top 10 ranking at 205 pounds, the 33-year-old Brazilian will collide with former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the co-main event. For Teixeira, who will enter the matchup on the strength of a 17-fight winning streak, the stakes could not be higher.
“I don’t think about that right now,” he said. “I just think about this very tough fight. I’m trying to put on a good fight for the fans.”
Teixeira has been nothing short of dazzling his two Octagon appearances, as he abused and submitted the American Kickboxing Academy’s Kyle Kingsbury with a first-round arm-triangle choke at UFC 146 in May before handing countryman Fabio Maldonado a horrific beating en route to a second-round technical knockout at UFC 153 five months later. In those two bouts, he out-landed his opposition by a 144-19 margin in total strikes and 110-15 in significant strikes. The bludgeoning of Maldonado earned Teixeira the Sherdog.com “Beatdown of the Year” award for 2012.
Teixeira, who has trained extensively with UFC hall of famer and MMA icon Chuck Liddell, has not tasted defeat in nearly eight years. He credits “The Iceman” for much of his success.
“Chuck has helped me with wrestling and striking,” he said. “He was a great fighter, and, now, he’s a great coach.”
This & That
Ricardo Lamas was the first American-born fighter to defeat former Sengoku champion Hatsu Hioki ... Canadian lightweight T.J. Grant has delivered 13 of his 19 career victories by submission, eight of them via armbar. His opponent, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 alum Matt Wiman, has never been submitted in 21 professional appearances ... Former International Fight League light heavyweight champion Vladimir Matyushenko’s last four fights -- two wins and two losses -- have ended inside the first round ... Shawn Jordan played fullback at Louisiana State University, winning national titles in 2003 and 2007 ... Pascal Krauss finished his first nine foes and won the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship welterweight crown before graduating to the UFC ... Rafael Natal’s nickname, “Sapo,” means frog in Portuguese ... David Mitchell has not won a fight since submitting Poppies Martinez under the Tachi Palace Fights banner on July 9, 2010.