Anthony Pettis has made some spectacular moments during his time inside both the WEC and UFC cages. But, due to injuries, those moments have been limited.
In December, “Showtime” will return to action for the first time since last year when he defends the lightweight title at UFC 181 against former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez. Pettis and Melendez are the current coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 20.
After claiming the title over Benson Henderson with a first round submission in 2013, Pettis (17-2) was forced to the sidelines with a knee injury. Now, fully healed, he’s ready to put on a show, as he told UFC.com.
“I gotta go out there and remind everybody who I am,” Pettis said. “I’ve got to get back in there and get a defense under my belt. I definitely got some cool experiences – the Wheaties box (cover), The Ultimate Fighter show, sponsors like Reebok and some big companies out there, so I definitely experienced that end of it, but the actual fighting side is what I’m going for.
“I think once I get some fights under my belt, I’ll get the full experience of being champ.”
Pettis is on a four-fight win streak that includes finishes over Henderson, Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon since his Octagon debut to Clay Guida, which was a decision loss in 2011. Melendez (22-3) is 1-1 in two UFC appearances, defeating Diego Sanchez and falling to Henderson for the title.
“Gil’s a tough opponent. He’s one of those guys that just goes out there and likes to fight,” Pettis said. “I don’t really see him as a big threat. He doesn’t really knock anybody out, he doesn’t submit anybody; he kinda goes out there and keeps the same pace the whole fight, so I’ve got to break that down and make sure he doesn’t go five rounds with me.”