Where Does Anthony Pettis Go From Here?

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Where Does Anthony Pettis Go From Here?

Last week at UFC Fight Night 81 in Boston Massachusetts, Anthony Pettis made his return to the Octagon against Eddie Alvarez since losing the UFC lightweight title to Rafael dos Anjos nearly a year ago. Pettis’ much anticipated return came with the hope from many fans, that Pettis’ career would regain some of the momentum that it had lost since dropping the title. Before that, Pettis was on top of the world, easily one of the UFC’s most marketable champions, and was even the first MMA fighter to be on the Wheaties box. But since that loss to dos Anjos, Pettis has all but fallen off.

I just need to get refocused and get back on track,” Pettis said in an interview prior to his match with Alvarez. “I was trying to rush back and to be honest with you; I wasn’t there mentally the way I need to be… You know what’s on my mind? Two words: Eddie Alvarez. That’s it. Nothing else matters but Eddie Alvarez.” With a new focus on his career, Pettis appeared to be primed for another title run. That is, of course, if he could get by Alvarez first.

While not a household name the way Pettis is, Alvarez was certainly not to be taken lightly. A former Bellator lightweight champion with a strong record, Alvarez was clearly a challenge for Pettis’ ascension back to the title. Pettis had never lost two fights in a row, and according to SB Nation was a -345 favorite coming into that fight.

But Alvarez had clearly watched how dos Anjos beat Pettis. Alvarez gave Pettis no space in the fight, and repeatedly took Pettis down and grinded him out to a split decision victory. Pettis had now lost two fights in a row for the first time in his career, and hadn’t looked too good in either match. The man that had once looked so dominate against the best lightweights in the world was now fully exposed. Make no mistake, Pettis is an incredible fighter, and a world class striker. But he has gaps. And now everyone knows it.

Pettis himself was dismissive of the loss, saying that he wants a “real fight, ASAP.”

So where does Pettis go from here?

Tony Ferguson

Undoubtedly one of the hottest fighters on the UFC roster, Ferguson is on an absolute tear right now.  He is currently riding a seven fight win-streak, with wins over Edson Barboza, Josh Thompson, Gleison Tibau and Abel Trujillo.  If Pettis really does whant a ‘real fight’ (which I am interpreting to mean a stand-up war), then this the fight to make.  Ferguson vs. Pettis is a striking fan’s dream, and would be a great match-up for the fans.

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Perhaps the sacriest fight out there for Pettis would be Nurmagomedov. A bout with a returning Nurmagomedov could be a nightmare match up for Pettis stylistically.  If we thought dos Anjos and Alvarez put pressure on Pettis, we can only imagine what Nurmagomedov would do.  That being said, if Pettis could learn from his past mistakes, and create the distance he would need to unload on Nurmagomedov, being the first man to beat the undefeated Russian would be a tremendous feather in his cap.

Edson Barboza

Another match-up that would make striking fans salivate would be a potential match-up between Pettis and Barboza.  And this one may be more likely to happen now that Nurmagomedov and Ferguson and targeted to face each other at UFC on FOX 19.

Jose Aldo

A potential superfight between Aldo and Pettis has long been rumored to be in the works, and now that Aldo suffered a 13 second knock out, and lost the title to Conor McGregor, now may be the perfect time for Aldo to move up in weight.  Thought this fight has certainly lost some of its luster now that both men have lost their belts, but this match-up could still generate a lot of interest for the fans.  Even without their belts, this would be an easy sell for the UFC, and a fight that could make a lot of money for both guys.

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