Two of the best lightweight fighters in the world are being targeted for a fight in early 2019, and I’ll give my thoughts on this prospective matchup in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Justin Gaethje vs. Anthony Pettis, UFC Phoenix
The UFC is targeting an exciting lightweight matchup between former WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje and former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis for an early 2019 fight card. The bout is not official yet, but ESPN’s Brett Okamoto says it’s close to being signed. The UFC is expected to hold a card on ESPN in Phoenix, Arizona next February, and it would make a lot of sense if Arizona native Gaethje headlines that card. Going opposite another exciting fighter like Pettis, this bout could provide fireworks.
Gaethje (19-2) has been amazing since signing with the UFC. Although his record in the Octagon is only .500 at 2-2, he’s put on four amazing fights for the fans and has been rewarded with five bonus awards for his hard work. In his UFC debut, he knocked out Michael Johnson and won a double bonus for both Performance of the Night and Fight of the Night. In his second UFC fight, he suffered a brutal knockout loss to Eddie Alvarez in another Fight of the Night. In his third UFC bout, he was once again knocked out, this time by Dustin Poirier, but once again won a Fight of the Night bonus. And in his last outing he was finally able to get back to his winning ways when he starched James Vick in the first round of their bout this past August, winning a Performance of the Night bonus for his quick finish. The former WSOF stud has become a huge fan favorite in a short period of time in the Octagon, and this bout against Pettis should give him a great opportunity to win another bonus.
Pettis (21-8) is just 8-7 overall in the UFC and has really been inconsistent in recent years as he hasn’t won back-to-back fights since 2014. But he is still putting on exciting performances, incuding a Fight of the Night award for his war against Tony Ferguson at UFC 229 this past October. Pettis lost that fight when his coach Duke Roufus threw in the towel due to a broken hand, but clearly his injury has healed up faster than expected as he’ll be returning to the Octagon in just a few months. Although he’s no longer a championship-level fighter in the UFC, Pettis still has a couple great fights left in him.
This is a great matchup, even though I’m surprised the UFC is booking someone coming off of a win in Gaethje against a guy coming off of a loss in Pettis. I’d have to favor Gaethje in this one just because he has more momentum behind him right now and because he has looked a bit fresher as of late, but Pettis is an incredible striker and we know Gaethje can be knocked out. Regardless of who wins, though, this should be one heck of a fight.