What’s next for Anthony Pettis?

The move up to welterweight to face one of the best strikers in the world in Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson may have come as somewhat of a surprise to most MMA fans around the world. But former lightweight champ Anthony Pettis was adamant that he was up for the challenge in a new weight class, so his wish was granted.

Stylistically, that matchup was very exciting. Two entertaining strikers who both hit hard at that weight class. No complaints from the fans. But it was going to be interesting to see how Pettis fares against a significantly bigger opponent.

Now that it is all said and done, it’s safe to say he fared pretty well as he got an incredible victory against Wonderboy by knocking him out with a flashy superman punch with less than ten seconds remaining in the second round.

It’s worth noting that even though Pettis was teeing off on Thompson’s legs for the duration of both rounds, he was getting beat up and losing the fight by quite a margin at the time of the stoppage, making the victory and its fashion that extra bit impressive.

Over the last three years, “Showtime” turned into a bit of a journeyman as he fell into a three-fight losing slump during which he lost his lightweight belt. He then intertwined wins and losses for seven fights which brings us to today, as he comes off a huge win in his welterweight debut.

To put Pettis’ (9-7) record inside the Octagon into perspective, he has been fighting nothing but top-level martial artists throughout his UFC career. And so, despite having seven losses, you can’t take anything away from Pettis and his commitment and willingness to fight anyone, while putting on a show.

The win on Saturday made Pettis only the third fighter in history behind Kenny Florian and Conor McGregor to win a fight at featherweight, lightweight and welterweight. Not a bad group of names to join. That win also opens up a multitude of opportunities for Pettis, who not long ago looked like he was on the brink of getting cut.

The 32-year-old has won two of his last three fights. Besides the KO win over Wonderboy, Pettis also submitted Michael Chiesa at lightweight. The loss came in an absolute brawl to Tony Ferguson, also at 155, but it did not hurt his ratings in the slightest after the showing that he put on display in that defeat.

All of a sudden, from being almost written off, Pettis now seems to have the cards in his hands when it comes to choosing what’s next for him inside the Octagon.

In the post-fight interview with Daniel Cormier, Pettis claimed that he would like to get a rematch against Rafael Dos Anjos at welterweight, but also stated that he is not quite yet finished at lightweight either. And so, after getting a win that will likely place him high inside of the welterweights top ten, Pettis can also look ahead to an attractive fight offer back at 155.

Looking at both of those divisions, it seems like a bit of a no brainer that Pettis should ride the wave that he just created at welterweight, and look for another fight there for several reasons.

One, the lightweight division is in a major stand still right now, and the upcoming interim title fight between Holloway and Poirier will only tie it down for even longer as it will need to wait for Khabib’s return from suspension at the end of the year to clear things up in regards to the championship belt.

Therefore, despite being ranked at No. 8, there are not many fights right now at 155 that would do Pettis any favors in the title conversation.

On the other hand, the welterweight division has just been blown wide open by the crowning of the new champ Kamaru Usman. The options in that division are endless right now and if Pettis could secure a fight against another top five contender and win, he would throw his name right into the mix for the next title shot.

All in all, it looks like “Showtime’s” career has been well and truly reignited inside the Octagon. He looked to be in possibly the best shape of his life at 170 on Saturday after not having to endure the usual grueling weight cut that he had grown accustomed to. In addition to that, he now also has plenty of options at multiple weight classes, and the ball is fully in his court in regards to what he wants to do next.

Will he look for a money fight? Or will he look to put together another title run at 155 or 170? Whichever of those it may be, it’s going to be an interesting couple of months to see what is next for Anthony Pettis.


Sports journalist based in CA, USA. Twitter: @ArionArmeniakos

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