Anthony Pettis is set to face the UFC’s #1 ranked lightweight in Rafael dos Anjos on Saturday night, but the champ continues to field questions about another top contender, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Of course, there are several, good reasons why the name Nurmagomedov keeps coming up. Not only has “The Eagle” gone 6-0 since arriving in the UFC, but the 26 year-old Nurmagomedov also holds a decision win over dos Anjos. In addition, the ridiculously talented grappler was driving very, very hard for a title fight with Pettis, before the latter was booked to fight dos Anjos at UFC 185.
Well, while talking to MMA Junkie.com this week, Pettis acknowledged that Nurmagomedov’s campaigning and trash talking has gotten under his skin.
“He’s talking a lot,” Pettis said. “That’s why I know who he is.”
“I already beat Cerrone, so I’m looking forward to fighting Khabib,” Pettis added. “He’s been talking. Cerrone already talked. I settled that beef. Now I’ve got to settle this one.”
Cerrone and Nurmagomedov are set to fight on May 23rd at UFC 187, and the winner will almost certainly be tapped for a title shot. As Pettis noted, he took out Cerrone in January, 2013, but since then “Cowboy” has gone 8-1 (the only man to defeat him during that time was dos Anjos).
While a lot of folks seem to be looking past dos Anjos and to Nurmagomedov, in terms of who could really push Pettis, the champ knows he has a tough test booked for Saturday. Case in point, while discussing dos Anjos, Pettis noted “Honestly, (dos Anjos) is probably the most dangerous guy I see on the lightweight roster besides Khabib…”
It’s going to be fascinating to see what unfolds at UFC 185 and at UFC 187 in the lightweight division. Whatever happens, there are some really interesting title fights on the horizon at 155.
UFC 185 will be hosted by the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, and will also feature strawweight champion Carla Esparza taking on Joanna Jedrzejczyk.