It took a few extra months, but Anthony Pettis finally made his first successful title defense Saturday night at UFC 181, besting Gilbert Melendez and retaining the lightweight belt.
Now, “Showtime” will look to continue his climb to becoming the best.
“I saw the division develop over the last year,” said Pettis, during the post-fight show on FOX Sports 1. “(Benson) Henderson losing, (Rafael) dos Anjos winning. But all these guys have fights coming up.
“Khabib (Nurmagomedov) is injured, but he could be next. I’m not afraid of anyone. Melendez is No. 1 in the world and I beat him in two rounds, so I’m ready for Khabib if he’s next.”
The submission win over Melendez was the first stoppage loss in his career and the third in the last four for Pettis. He’s now defeated the likes of Henderson and Donald Cerrone.
Last year, Pettis submitted Henderson to win the title and was scheduled to compete, but a knee injury knocked him out for several months. He also spent time on the sidelines coaching The Ultimate Fighter opposite Melendez.
“The last 15 months was hard because of the surgery,” he said. “It was tough. When I’m healthy, no one can beat me.”