Next week’s lightweight feature co-main event at UFC Fight Night 81 could have had title implications, but with Conor McGregor expected to jump up to face Rafael dos Anjos in March, Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez are instead simply fighting to keep their place in line.
However, while McGregor’s entrance to the division could derail title hopes and delay opportunities, both Pettis and Alvarez said this week they see it as a positive.
“I was going to move down to 145 and fight Jose Aldo when I was the No. 1 contender so I guess the champion moving up to fight the champion makes sense,” Pettis said during a media conference call for the event (transcribed by FoxSports.com). “I feel like the lightweight division’s always been marketable. We have some great champions, we have some great guys that came out of the division. It’s not based on just talk, it’s based on performance. I think the division’s always been a tough division. The 145 [lb] division was dominated by Jose Aldo the whole time so you got a guy that takes out Aldo and he moves up a weight class, of course everybody’s going to want to watch it. I welcome it. Hopefully he stays and we see how good he really is.”
Added Alvarez, “I think anything or anybody who brings more money to the sport is a good thing. It’s hard for me to say anything bad about it Regardless of whether people think he deserves this or he deserves that, the truth is when one fighter gets paid more, it’s good for all of us. Every single one of us. So I’m happy he brings marketability to the division and it’s not up to me or any fighter to say what he deserves or doesn’t. Our bosses make that decision no matter how we perform out there. Happy to see money coming in.”
Penick’s Analysis: It’s a smart reaction from both fighters, because it could be that one of them will wind up getting the big money opportunity against McGregor in the future. Should the Irishman defeat Rafael dos Anjos, his plan is to fight multiple times a year and to defend both the Featherweight and Lightweight Titles as challengers are stake their respective claims. Pettis may yet need to beat dos Anjos to get himself back there regardless, because the way that he lost almost requires him to get retribution in order to move past that defeat. Alvarez, with a win over Pettis, could be right in line regardless, but McGregor’s first title defense is still likely to come at featherweight. They should welcome McGregor’s presence in some respects, but it certainly makes things a bit tougher for any fighter trying to get a shot in the division.
[Photo (c) Joe Camporeale via USA Today Sports]
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