Anthony Pettis is ready for a new challenger after winning at UFC 181. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
After 15 months on the shelf, Anthony Pettis returned to the Octagon in style at UFC 181, defeating Gilbert Melendez via guillotine choke.
As soon as the post-fight press conference began Saturday in Las Vegas, attention turned to Pettis’ next challenger -- namely, undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was in attendance.
The champion’s layoff, paired with a division as competitive as lightweight, has created a situation where there is no place for time off. As he has done incessantly on social media for quite some time, Nurmagomedov made his case for a title shot.
Pettis didn’t shy away from the idea.
“If they want him next give him a shot, I’m ready. I’m injury free. I feel good,” Pettis said. “You guys saw what I did to Gilbert Melendez. If he’s next let’s do it.”
Pettis has won five straight fights, including three consecutive wins via submission. The 27-year-old placed emphasis on how pleased he was beating a fighter the caliber of Melendez, who had never been finished prior to Saturday.
“I feel like I had a great performance. Gil’s a tough guy. I was expecting a war out there and he delivered. First round was a tough round. I tried to avoid the takedowns as best as possible, but I think once I got to striking range, I delivered,” Pettis said. “I hit him with some good shots, hit him with some nice jabs. I think I did enough to prove that I deserve this belt in front of me.”