Rafael dos Anjos may be booked to fight Anthony Pettis next, but there’s still a lot of discussion as to how the UFC Lightweight Champion will fare against Khabib Nurmagomedov. After all, Nurmagomedov has defeated six straight men since he joined the UFC in 2012, and has been repeatedly calling for a title shot in recent months.
Another reason there’s a lot of buzz about Pettis-Nurmagomedov, is because the latter is widely considered to be one of the best grapplers in all of MMA. Whether Nurmagomedov has been facing a BJJ black like dos Anjos, or a powerful wrestler like Abel Trujillo, the Sambo champ’s grappling game has won out, and in some cases, it appeared to do so easily.
Pettis has clearly improved his wrestling in recent years, and has dangerous submissions as well, but a lot of folks want to see whether he can shut down Nurmagomedov.
Recently the champion and feared striker spoke to MMA Junkie.com about “The Eagle”, and here is some of what he had to say about the lightweight’s skill set.
“I feel like his striking is like an amateur level,” Pettis said. “He only gets by on his wrestling. He thinks his striking is going to be good enough to survive against me, take me down and grind me out for 25 minutes? He’s never done that. He’s never fought a main event for 25 minutes.
“Anybody can wrestle for 15 minutes, but it’s different when you’re fighting for the title. At the same time, his striking is amateur compared to where my wrestling us. My wrestling is on a way higher level than his striking if you want to compare the two.”
Interesting comments, and it is true that Nurmagomedov hasn’t gone five rounds yet in the UFC.
It will certainly be a compelling match-up, if it happens, but first Pettis has to get through dos Anjos. The latter has locked up a title fight thanks to a recent run which includes wins over Benson Henderson, Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone. The only man who has defeated dos Anjos since 2011 is Nurmagomedov.
Pettis-dos Anjos will headline UFC 185, which will take place on March 14th in Dallas, Texas.