By Raymond Ferrer / @RC_FurAir
Of all the different divisions within the UFC, the Lightweight division has long been considered the toughest. It shouldn’t be surprising, considering the division houses the most fighters on the UFC roster (107 fighters), each clawing for a spot in the top 10. Entering the top 10 murderers' row of lightweights is no easy task, but staying there is an even taller order. Similar to your first sexual experience, you’ve finally got there and you know you wanna stay, but it's usually over before you could really enjoy it. And just like in any pubescent drama, the number one most sought after dude is often the most athletic, best dressed, with the dopest chick on his arm, all while sporting the freshest fade and million dollar smile. He’s ahead of the game and you hate him, or at least you envy his position and success at what every guy wants.
Enter Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, UFC Lightweight Champion.
Pettis will carry a record of 18 wins and 2 losses when he walks into the Octagon tonight against the number one contender, Rafael Dos Anjos. Since stripping the title from Benson Henderson via armbar in 2013, Pettis has only been able to defend the coveted belt once against gritty veteran Gilbert Melendez. Prior to their lightweight scrap, Melendez, the former Strikeforce Champ, had never once been finished and was long considered one of the sports top Lightweights long before entering the UFC. However, last December, Pettis dispatched Melendez in under two minutes of the second round via guillotine choke. With less than a scratch on him, Pettis looked to stay busy after a fifteen-month layoff.
It’s easy to look passed Dos Anjos, especially considering 48% of his victories and 71% of his losses have come by decision. Riding a three-fight win streak is impressive, especially in the lightweight division. However, both Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov have much longer streaks at six wins each within the UFC. Some would say it would have made more sense for either the “Cowboy” or “The Eagle” to be fighting on tonight's card for the Lightweight strap. Instead, the two are expected to meet later in May at UFC 187 for a number one contender's match. Dos Anjos and Pettis both hold victories over Cerrone which could explain him being passed up for a shot . Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov has been inactive due to injury since April 2014, where he handed Dos Anjos his last loss. Moving forward, Dos Anjos has the opportunity of a lifetime and seeks the credit he deserves as a six year veteran of the UFC.
Unfortunately for him, Pettis looks to be the next great lightweight champion. In many ways, Pettis has the potential to surpass even BJ Penn, on marketability alone. Take a look at Pettis’ instagram and you get a feeling he’s meant for the limelight. Lavish excursions, a gorgeous girlfriend, gold chains, purchasing a car and a home for his mother, the guy is likable and already garners more attention than the division's last two champions. With a highlight reel full of gravity defying moves, slick submissions and swift knockouts, its no wonder he was one of the first fighters sponsored by Reebok. The guy’s on the Wheaties Box for Christ's sake! You can’t get more mainstream friendly than that. So tonight when you tune in and the referee calls the fight to action, you may want to pay close attention because you might be witnessing a legend in the making.
A former college wrestler, Taekwondo black-belt, and wannabe boxer, Paul Navarro (aka Fight Like Sugar) is now a full-time lawyer, part-time fight scribe, and high school wrestling coach.