When Anthony Pettis lost to Eddie Alvarez at UFC Fight Night Boston last month, he immediately asked the UFC to book him a “real fight” ASAP. Well the UFC heard him so now they’ve matched him against a dangerous opponent in Edson Barboza.
As announced at “UFC Tonight”, Pettis will take on Barboza in a lightweight bout at UFC 197 which will be headlined by the UFC Light Heavyweight title bout between current champion Daniel Cormier and immediate former champion Jon Jones. The event will be held on April 23th, 2016 at a venue still to be determined.
Pettis is in a must-win situation after suffering the first back to back losses of his career. After losing his crown to current Lightweight king Rafael Dos Anjos, Pettis lost a tough grappling match-up against former two-time Bellator Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez last month. Pettis criticized Alvarez for turning their bout into a grappling affair with Showtime unable to launch his vaunted striking attacks. He literally begged the UFC to give him an immediate “real fight” in obvious reference against Alvarez’s style and now the promotion has granted his wish.
Pettis’ opponent will be Edson Barboza, the decorated Muai Thai Striker from Brazil. Although Barboza was 1-2 in 2015, his overall UFC record is 10-4. This six time Fight of The Night Winner (5-1 record) is currently ranked #8 in the UFC Lightweight standings. He is considered one of the more dangerous strikers in the 155-pound weight class and his style may be the perfect match-up to that of Pettis’.
Pettis complained about Eddie Alvarez dragging him to the mat last month. Now he gets an opponent who will surely oblige in a stand up battle. Having said that though, Barboza may be more than what Pettis asked for. Although he struggled last year, he is far from being finished at 30 years old. But if Pettis wants to return to the top of the rankings, this one is the fight that will take him there again.
The UFC’s lightweight division is loaded with talent and with an ambitious guy like Conor McGregor going for Dos Anjos on March 5th, the title picture could become complicated. But should Dos Anjos send McGregor packing back to his weight class and Pettis beats Barboza convincingly, he may get the next title shot over Eddie Alvarez who is begging for one after beating Gilbert Melendez and Pettis.