Former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis is finally back in the win column as seen in his unanimous decision win over Jim Miller last night at UFC 213. The question now is what’s next for the 30-year-old Milwaukee native?
Pettis’ win was a reminder of how rich in talent the 155 lb division is, in fact the weekend alone provided fans with much needed action that has been lacking in title defenses.
If we take a look a the UFC’s rankings you’d notice Pettis is missing, but there was another lightweight who performed in an entertaining battle this weekend. That man is Michael Johnson who Pettis showed interest in fighting last year after his KO win over Dustin Poirer. Johnson also expressed interest in fighting Pettis recently and now it could come to fruition in a nice stand up battle fans will welcome with open arms.
Another option could possibly be Al Iaquinta. When he is not raging, Iaquinta is calling out everyone and anyone under the sun and a high profile fighter like Pettis might be able to lure him back into competition. The UFC has been accused of not getting behind Iaquinta, but how could they not get behind him if he is able to defeat a former champion? If the UFC were to give Iaquinta a step up in competition to test his claims, why not offer up “Showtime?”
With reports of Beneil Dariush and Evan Dunham being match up in October, Pettis could potentially find himself facing Michael Chiesa, Chiesa, like Jim Miller is a grinder who could view Pettis as a formidable opponent who could earn him a much needed bounce back win. The UFC might be easing Pettis back up the ladder so why not offer Chiesa his biggest name to date. The jiu jitsu between both men could make things even more interesting, but given Pettis’ hand injury, Chiesa might not be willing to sit and wait it out.
If you were to ask for a potential dark horse in the lower portion of the UFC’s lightweight division, you’d come across James Vick. Vick’s lone UFC loss came against his toughest opponent to date, Beneil Dariush. The KO loss occurred at UFC 199 and since then, Vick has won two consecutive bouts, both finishes. Vick’s statement on the UFC not showing him the love reserved for the Sage Northcutt’s of the roster could be answered in the form of a challenge. The 30-year-old Vick’s last outing was two months back at UFC 211 and seeing as it lasted under a round, he could be due to return soon. The fight could be a fun one, but there is one guy who almost always brings fun each time he steps inside the octagon.
Dustin Poirier is expected to return to action in a UFC 211 rematch against Eddie Alvarez. While the rematch has yet to receive an official date, Poirier expressed concern that Alvarez could be holding back. Should the rematch not work out, why not throw Pettis in there instead? Poirier doesn’t appear interested in anything other than getting closer to a title shot, which he would do should he defeat a former champion and high ranked opponent in Alvarez. After seeing how Justin Gaethje was able to put away Michael Johnson, the man who defeated Poirier 10 months ago, the path might be closer than ever before. Fighting Pettis could mean more risk than reward.
Pettis’ focus on building strength via weight lifting certainly appears to be working judging by his performance against Miller. And with the much needed boost in confidence that came with the victory, fans could be on the verge of witnessing another “Showtime” run at the title. The ride will surely be a compelling one.