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Examining The Options For Anthony Pettis’ Next Matchup

Anthony Pettis picked up his biggest win in years last night, blasting through top welterweight contender Stephen Thompson in the UFC Nashville main-event.

Showtime managed to well and truly live up to his billing last night with one of the most unlikely KO’s of the year so far.

The superman-punch has rarely been so effective in the UFC and for Pettis to have pulled one off in that fashion against a guy of Thompson’s credentials was nothing short of extraordinary.

Now, the big question surrounds the identity of his next opponent.

As a player in both the 155lb and 170lb divisions, we’ve put together a few names that could potentially be in the future for Showtime if he returns in July – as he said he hopes to.

Note: Pettis spoke in the post-fight about not being willing to fight Tyron Woodley, Ben Askren, or Jorge Masvidal.

Rafael dos Anjos

The man who so famously beat down the former-lightweight champion to steal his title back in 2015 was well on his way to being considered the greatest 155lb-r to ever do it before Eddie Alvarez ran through him in one round to claim the throne.

A rematch between RDA and Pettis would work at 170lbs for several reasons on paper but above all else, it’s an intriguing stylistic clash and one that carries a built-in narrative.

If dos Anjos can get past Kevin Lee in their upcoming clash, a matchup with Pettis in July for International Fight Week would be well worth booking.

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 14: Rafael dos Anjos, top fights with Anthony Pettis in the Lightweight Title bout during the UFC 185 event at American Airlines Center on March 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Kevin Lee

Rafael dos Anjos’ May 18 opponent finally made the jump up to the welterweight division after some increasing difficulty in making the 155lb limit.

To some, it would appear as though Lee is falling on hard times of late – and he is, to a certain extent – but it’s easy to forget that this guy is just 26-years-old.

A matchup with Lee would prove to be a good test of Pettis’ ability to deal with the wrestling threat – a question that has, of course, lingered throughout his career – one that he must answer if he wishes to earn himself another UFC title shot.

Conor McGregor

The great outlier. It’s hard to know exactly how interested Conor McGregor is in a showdown with Showtime at this point but upon congratulating him for becoming the third UFC fighter to win a fight in three different weight-classes, of course the people started to talk.

It would certainly be a fitting matchup for the Irishman’s return, make no mistake.

In the same way that the oft-reported matchup with Donald Cerrone would pair Conor with a big name and a relatively lenient stylistic clash, Pettis would satisfy that demand to an even greater level – especially now.

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Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena

 

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Author: Cillian Cunningham

Lead mixed martial arts writer who can be contacted at [email protected]