Respect the Game: Pettis Needs to Fight TJ Grant First

Simmer down there, Champ. Defend your title once before calling out UFC's best

9/2/13 in MMA   |   mattlocascio   |   2 respect

Aug 31, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA;  Anthony Pettis reacts after beating Benson Henderson (not pictured) to win the Lightweight Championship during the UFC-164 bout at BMO Harris Bradley Center.  Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY SportsKickboxing legend and Anthony Pettis coach Duke Roufus was right. Anthony Pettis does have Benson Henderson's number.

Pettis unleashed a series of lightning-fast body kicks that clearly hurt the champ, then showed he has high-level ground skills by trapping Henderson in an armbar and getting him to verbally submit. Just like that the UFC had a new lightweight champion.

It was an amazing performance, and there is no argument that Pettis is one of the most electric fighters in the UFC. He's good for the sport, really good for pay-per-view numbers and he just beat one of the UFC's most dominant champions.

Henderson was on an epic, undefeated two-year run that included wins over Mark Bocek, Jim Miller, Clay Guida, Frankie Edgar (2x), Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez. Pettis ended that and had already beat Henderson once before. Pettis is that good.

But here's where I run into a problem with Pettis. Right after beating Henderson, he told Joe Rogan in his post-fight interview that he was ready to take on Jose Aldo in a superfight, and they can pick which belt to fight for and do battle.

Call me crazy, but I think that you should defend the title you just won at least once before you call out a guy like Aldo, who has defended his title seven times and hasn't lost in eight years.

Pettis may have been caught up in the moment, but it's disrespectful to guys like Chad Mendes and Ric Lamas, who both deserve a shot at Aldo before he does.

May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; TJ Grant reacts to his victory over Gray Maynard during UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsOr how about a guy like TJ Grant at 155? Should he have to wait for his shot at a belt so Pettis can go back down to 145 and fight Aldo? No, he shouldn't. Don't fight for a title you don't plan to defend right away. Period.

Pettis of all fighters should understand the process of waiting in line and why he should not only fight Grant first at 155, but let guys like Lamas get their shot at Aldo. 

If he really wanted a shot at Aldo and his belt, he should have went to featherweight and held his place in line after his injury. He didn't have to jump back to lightweight to fight Henderson. But he did, and he should honor that by fighting TJ Grant next, who would have fought Henderson if not for his own injury.

Can you find a fight fan that doesn't want to see Aldo vs. Pettis? Doubtful. It's a mouth-watering match-up. But that's not the point. The point is that there are viable contenders in both divisions that have taken all the necessary steps to put themselves in position for title fights. They shouldn't be discarded just because one guy decides he wants a superfight.

Pettis already did Grant dirty once, trying to get the Henderson fight after he got hurt and had to pull out of the Aug. 3 Aldo fight. So now Pettis wants to deny Grant again, as well as hop right back in line at 145? That's garbage. Respect the game, respect Grant and give him his shot. If you never wanted that, then you should have never stepped in to fight Henderson.

The argument I'm making here is all about respect. Respect for the fighters and what they put in to accomplish what they deserve. Guys like Lamas and Grant have paid their dues and then some. Aldo vs. Pettis can wait. R-E-S-P-E-C-T has much greater value than P-P-V. Maybe just not in Anthony Pettis' world.
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9/3/13   |   MortonsLaw   |   156 respect

But we all know Dana does what is best for business. Respect for anything goes out the window when it comes to the almighty dollar.

9/2/13   |   jaysutcliffe81   |   25 respect

mattlocascio wrote:
Hey Jay-
I've edited it to take out the misleading phrasing. I should have made it more clear. My whole point is that superfights are great, but I think the natural flow of the divisions and title defenses should come first before any type of superfight.

I absolutely agree with that! I think that you should have to clear out your division before you take on a superfight.

9/2/13   |   mattlocascio   |   2 respect

Hey Jay-
I've edited it to take out the misleading phrasing. I should have made it more clear. My whole point is that superfights are great, but I think the natural flow of the divisions and title defenses should come first before any type of superfight.

9/2/13   |   jaysutcliffe81   |   25 respect

I understand some of what you are saying, but some of your points are very inaccurate. First, Pettis never dropped to 145 and fought after losing to Guida, he has been at 155 the whole time. After Guida he fought Jeremy Stephens, Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone. After earning a shot at the lightweight title the UFC overlooked him and gave it to Gilbert Melendez who was coming over from Strikeforce. So, Gilbert cut the line on Pettis and no one had a problem with that.

It is also important to note that, that was the second time Pettis had been over looked when he was offered a shot at the title. When he came over from the WEC he was the lightweight champion and was supposed to have a unification bout with Frankie Edgar but instead the UFC granted Maynard a rematch and in that time Pettis lost to Guida and lost his shot. One that he had earned. So people have cut in front of him twice. 

After Gilbert hopped the line Anthony offered his services to Dana to fight with Aldo at featherweight. He has never, ever fought at feather weight. He hurt his knee and was pulled out of the Aldo fight, a few weeks later he was offered the Benson fight after TJ was hurt and he accepted. 

The only reason he challenged Aldo was because Aldo and his camp accused Pettis of faking the injury because he couldn't make 145. That is why Pettis said he would fight at either weight class. If you really want to get into it, Aldo was offered a shot at the 155 title if he beat Pettis and said he wanted to make the jump and fight for the lightweight belt. So what is his problem he should jump to 155 and fight Pettis.