Anthony Pettis has been here before.
After knocking Donald Cerrone on Saturday at UFC on Fox 6, he appears ready for a title shot in his next bout. Of course, UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson has to fight Gilbert Melendez first, and you never know what could happen when they meet in April.
“Honestly, I don’t care [who wins] as long as we don’t have a decision that’s close,” Pettis told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “Somebody finish the fight so we’ll have a champ that I can fight.”
Pettis was supposed to fight the winner of the January 2011 title bout between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. When it ended as a draw, though, a rematch was scheduled and Pettis took a bout in the meantime. He lost that bout -- a decision to Clay Guida -- and has been working his way back up the ladder ever since.
“At this point, the belt’s been avoiding me,” said Pettis, who has won three straight since losing to Guida. “I’m tired of chasing after it. I’m tired of waiting and putting my career on hold. I just turned 26. I think I’m going to be entering my prime here in the next couple of years. I want to take full advantage of that. … I just want to make sure that it’s official and no matter what happens [between Henderson and Melendez] -- a draw, a close decision, no one’s going to cry about the decision -- that I’m next no matter what.”
Pettis has been especially impressive in his last two fights. He knocked out Joe Lauzon in February 2012 with a head kick and punches before finishing Cerrone on Saturday with a devastating kick to the body.
“I hit him with the first body kick and I caught him reaching for a punch, and that’s the worst time to get hit,” Pettis said. “Your body’s fully extended. You’re not expecting to get hit. I caught him with the first one and I could tell in his face right away that he was hurt, but he’s one of them guys that’s still dangerous. You could tell in the Melvin Guillard fight. Guillard rocked him pretty bad and just got caught being sloppy. I didn’t want to get caught being sloppy, so I just told myself to take my time.”
Cerrone absorbed the next kick and dropped. Pettis knew the fight was over.
“Your body shuts down,” Pettis said when asked what it’s like getting kicked in the liver. “You can’t do anything. Your mind’s still working and you know you want to fight back, and being at this level I’m sure he wanted to fight back, but when you get hit like that and that clean, your body just shuts down. You literally can’t do anything. It’s a sucky feeling because you’re fully conscious. I think it’s worse than a knockout because you’re fully conscious. You know what’s going on, but you just can’t fight back.”
It was the kind of performance the UFC likes to see before granting a fighter a title shot. Pettis found some flaws in his game, however. In particular, he said he pushed his punches in a couple of the exchanges and was also lifting his elbow. He’ll look to fix those mistakes in anticipation of finally getting a crack at the gold.
“Little things like that, I’ve got to clean up,” he said. “If I’m going to be the champion, I’ve got to have a flawless, flawless performance.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:21:28).