Anthony Pettis will try to move back into title contention in February. | Photo: Dave Mandel
A lightweight confrontation between former WEC titleholder Anthony Pettis and red-hot Joe Lauzon has been added to the fight bill for UFC 144 on Feb. 26.
UFC officials Tuesday announced that Lauzon and Pettis have verbally agreed to the matchup, which will take place at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. A lightweight title tilt pitting champ Frankie Edgar against top contender Ben Henderson is expected to headline the first UFC event held on Japanese soil since 2000.
A winner in five of his last six, Pettis became final WEC champion before the promotion merged with the UFC this year.
Pettis defeated Henderson via unanimous decision to capture the title, knocking down the former champion in the final frame with a springboard roundhouse kick to the face, dubbed the “Showtime kick.” Though Pettis stumbled in his UFC debut against Clay Guida, the Roufusport product rebounded with a split decision win over Jeremy Stephens on Oct. 8.
Lauzon’s last in-cage appearance also occurred at UFC 136, where “J-Lau” derailed Melvin Guillard’s hot streak via first-round rear-naked choke.
An underdog heading into the contest, Lauzon proved the bookmakers wrong by staggering Guillard with a left hand, jumping on his back and ending the fight with his renowned jiu-jitsu abilities. The win marked Lauzon’s second straight since submitting to a George Sotiropoulos kimura one year ago. Three years the elder of the 24-year-old Pettis, Lauzon holds 17 of his 21 career wins by submission.