In what we can file under “comming fucking sense” news, Anthony Pettis will not be waiting for Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard to settle things before stepping foot inside the UFC Octagon to wage war with another human.
According to Pettis’ manager Mike Roberts, “Anthony was obviously disappointed in not getting the title shot but he also understands why Dana made that decision.” Roberts further explained that after speaking with both Pettis and his coach, Duke Roufus, it was decided that the lightweight contender would take a fight against another top contender before fighting for the belt.
The big question that follows is who Pettis might step into the cage. Two names that come to mind as being worthy of a title shot are Jim Miller and George Sotiropoulous, both of whom have upcoming fights already booked. Other top fighters like Kenny Florian and Sean Sherk would also seem like logical opponents. But one name stands out above all else: Clay Guida.
After the jump I’ll explain why I think he’s the best choice.
Florian and Sherk can both be eliminated off the bat because neither is a win away from a crack at the belt. Sherk is 2-2 in his last 4 and has only fought 5 times in the past 4 years. Florian, while more active than Sherk, is also 2-2 in his last 4 and just dropped his last bout to Maynard. I would actually put these two against each other to decide who re-establishes themselves as a contender and who gets relegated to permanent high-level gatekeeper status.
Miller and Sotirop are both arguably more worthy of a title shot then Guida at this point, in light of their respective win streaks. It follows that they would each also be more logical to fight Pettis in what would be a de facto title eliminator. But these two are also largely unknown to casual fans and are being brought along slowly because of that. It seems to me that Miller and Sotirop would be better served by fighting each other for a future shot at the belt, so long as they both beat their respective upcoming opponents.
The reason Guida stands out as an opponent is because he has serious name value, his current win streak (including his big win over Takanori Gomi) merits title contention, and he consistently puts on exciting fights, despite the opinions of his detractors.
Unlike Sherk and Florian, Guida has never had the opportunity to fight for the title, so he would be a fresh challenger if he were to upset Pettis. Unlike Miller and Sotirop, Guida is a grizzled veteran of the UFC, fighting for the organization 13 times since his debut in 2007. He has consistently fought high-quality competition, facing off with the likes of Gomi, Florian, Diego Sanchez, Tyson Griffin, Nate Diaz, Roger Huerta, and Marcus Aurelio. I would argue that the quality of these fighters trump those listed on the resumes of either Sotriop or Miller. On top of that, Miller and Sotirop both have fights currently booked; Guida doesn’t.
Because of all this, I think Clay Guida is the best possible opponent for Pettis in his UFC debut. A win for “Showtime” will show that he truly belongs among the best in the division. And even if he loses, it will likely be after an exciting fight, as an entertaining scrap is practically guaranteed any time either Guida or Pettis enters the cage.