Anthony Pettis: I'm the number one fighter in the lightweight division
When Anthony Pettis steps into the cage against Donald Cerrone at UFC on Fox 6 it will have been nearly a year since his last appearance within the Ultimate Fighting Championship. And a lot has happened over that time.
Benson Henderson has taken and defended the 155-pound strap against Frankie Edgar, Nate Diaz has ascended to top contender status, and Pettis has found himself battling a rash of shoulder injuries. But according to "Showtime", the one thing that hasn't changed is the fact that he is still the best lightweight fighter in the world.
"I'm the number one fighter in the lightweight division," Pettis told WIMMA Today reporter Paul Fladten. "I've beat the guy (Henderson) who's the best already. I've just had a tough break the last couple years and time to get back at it."
Before Pettis has a chance to legitimize his claim with a title shot, a loquacious and always dangerous Cerrone lies in wait. Having won six of seven fights since transitioning from the now defunct WEC, "Cowboy" has used strong performances and a well strategized verbal assault to talk his way into the January fight.
Back in August, Cerrone took to the media in hopes of getting under Pettis' skin and setting the table for a possible number-one contender matchup between the two. It worked on both accounts and the two have since engaged in a war of words that has ultimately added more intrigue to an already exceptional pairing.
"That beefs 100-percent real," said Pettis. "On my end more real because he had to lie about me ducking him, wanting to fight other people, and not wanting to fight him. I was calling out the guy (Diaz) who whooped him...but that fight didn't happen. Nate got the title shot.
"So, Cowboy needed to get his name somehow relevant, so he had to talk stuff and get me amped to fight him. And he didn't need to have to do that. I mean, call me out and let's do it, that's all you had to do. I'm very excited to have that fight and show him what's up."
For fans of mixed martial arts it doesn't get much more exciting than Pettis versus Cerrone. Both fighters are known to be as exciting as they come, both are nearing the prime of their careers, and the stakes are as high as it gets. Needless to say, the pride of Milwaukee doesn't plan on letting this opportunity slip away.
"Definitely me with my hand raised," Pettis answered about a prediction. "There's no way I'm going to lose that fight. I'm going to do everything in my God's power that I can win this fight. There's no way I'm going to quit. He's not going to knock me out, I'm not going to tap, I'm going to implement my game to the fullest and I just can't wait to put him on the ground."
If the prospect of a title shot wasn't enough, Pettis is now set to enter the January bout against Cerrone with revenge firmly on his mind. Styles make fights and pure disdain for your opponent doesn't hurt either.
"I have a lot of respect for his talent, I just don't respect him as a person."