Pettis on not getting McGregor bout at UFC 196: “I figured he wouldn’t pick me… easier guys for him to fight”

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Anthony Pettis (photo credit Joe Camporeale © USA Today Sports)

Former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis put his name in the hat for this weekend’s UFC 196 main event, but he wasn’t expecting to be selected for the fight, especially because it was Conor McGregor making the decision on just whom he’d fight.

In an interview with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Pettis said he thought McGregor would take the easiest fight of the options presented.

“I spoke to Dana, Joe Silva, but it was all up to him [McGregor],” Pettis said (transcribed by “They said RDA pulled out and they are not going to make him fight anybody, they are going to let him choose who he wants to fight. I figured he wouldn’t pick me. So, I was a little excited about it, but, there was easier opponents and easier guys for him to fight.

“Diaz is a tough fight at 170. Going from 45 to 170, that’s a huge jump right there. I mean, top 10 lightweights, no one is easy, but there are quicker routes and easier ways for him to move. I wouldn’t say it’s an easy fight for him, but, as far as fighting me or ‘Cowboy’ who just came off a camp, Diaz was just sitting there for the picking.”

Penick’s Analysis: Diaz is certainly not an “easy” fight, but a fresher Cerrone or Pettis may have been more difficult for McGregor on Saturday. Of course, Diaz is simply the more money fight for the UFC on pay-per-view this week on short notice, especially with Cerrone having been beaten by Rafael dos Anjos in December and Pettis coming off of two losses. Regardless, Pettis could eventually be in line for that big fight with McGregor, he just needs to get back on a consistent run after consecutive setbacks.

[Photo (c) Joe Camporeale via USA Today Sports]

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