Ben Henderson Doesn’t Think Anthony Pettis Is First In Line For His UFC Lightweight Title (Update)

Newly crowned UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson may be willing to take on whoever the UFC puts in front of him, but that doesn’t mean he thinks the apparent frontrunner Anthony Pettis should be first in line.

In his post-fight interview with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, Henderson said that Pettis should get a few more wins before challenging him for the title. Transcription via MMA Mania:

“The way he does things, man, he’s spectacular. He does a lot of big moves. But I think there’s a line. I don’t think he’s first in line. I’m going to handle my business, defend the belt a couple times. He’s going to handle his business, I’m sure he’ll get two or three more wins, maybe highlight reel wins, maybe sturdy wins against solid wrestlers who he can show that he’s been working on his takedown defense or whatever. But he’s going to do his thing, I’m going to do my thing. I’m sure we will match up one day and I’m sure it will be for my UFC belt. I don’t know if it will be next but I’m sure it will happen.”

Looking at records alone, I guess you could argue that Pettis needs another win or two before he “deserves” a shot at the title, but let’s be honest, that’s usually not how it works. Following his loss to Clay Guida, Pettis scored a win over Jeremy Stephens and follow it up with a sensational knockout over Joe Lauzon on the same card Henderson won the title. If he had just eeked out a decision over Lauzon, things may be different, but given his history with Henderson which produced the craziest kick the sport has ever seen, I think the UFC has all the justification it needs to give Pettis the shot now. The fight makes sense and timing is perfect. Let’s see it.

On another note, check out Henderson’s TUF 9 audition tape that MiddleEasy somehow dug up. My favorite part is how Bendo proclaims at the end that he’s going to win the TUF 9 crown and move on to become the UFC lightweight champ. He never made it on the show, but be damn sure got the more important of the two right. Pretty cool.

Image via Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

Update: Anthony Pettis responded tonight on Pro MMA Radio. Here’s what he said via MMA Mania:

“If I was him, I would say the same thing too. I mean, he just won the belt and he doesn’t want to give it up that quick and if he fights against me, he’s not going to hold on to that belt for awhile, I mean, I match up bad for him, and for (him to say) for me to work on my takedown defense, last year he couldn’t take me down and we went five rounds and I won that decision. So, if I was him, I wouldn’t want to fight me either. Of course, he doesn’t want to fight me, for that reason. There is no clear number one contender in the UFC (lightweight) division except myself. I mean Diaz is fighting Jim Miller, and that fight’s a long time away. Let’s set this up, let’s see who’s really number one in the lightweight division. I’m the last guy to beat him and I just had one of the best performances of my life, so let’s make this happen. He definitely got a lot better, but I got a lot better too, everybody gets better in a year. I don’t really see too big a changes, I don’t think it’s going to be one of those fights that where he’s just going to come in and dominate.”

  • http://twitter.com/Warriordave927 warriordave927

    I get that pettis isn’t on some crazy win streak but Ben just won the belt and he already wants to pick and choose his opponents,I think its a good match-up,why wouldn’t he want to beat the last guy that beat him and took his wec belt,the next possible contender would be the winner of diaz and miller and neither of them is on an amazing win streak plus the winner of that fight wont be for probably about six months from now on the perfect time frame,both bendo nor pettis looked to be injured on Saturday so why not have that fight within 3 to 4 months and possibly avenge a loss,just doesnt make sense to me why he wouldn’t want the fight

  • http://twitter.com/Warriordave927 warriordave927

    I get that pettis isn’t on some crazy win streak but Ben just won the belt and he already wants to pick and choose his opponents,I think its a good match-up,why wouldn’t he want to beat the last guy that beat him and took his wec belt,the next possible contender would be the winner of diaz and miller and neither of them is on an amazing win streak plus the winner of that fight wont be for probably about six months from now on the perfect time frame,both bendo nor pettis looked to be injured on Saturday so why not have that fight within 3 to 4 months and possibly avenge a loss,just doesnt make sense to me why he wouldn’t want the fight

    • Anonymous

      He is scared of losing to him again

    • http://twitter.com/JutsinFinstad Justin Finstad

      Id like pettis to fight one more time, but your absolutely right about Benson being pretty cocky about pickin his next opponent. If the big guys upstairs decide to through pettis in that would be awsome as it is such a marketable fight and was so good the first time. If he doesnt get it that makes sense to but Benson shouldn’t have so much swagger after a performance that was powerful but still left some question marks for a lot of fans. Espicially in the midst of all these rematch talks. Talk about what you think the difference was in the fight or why there shouldnt be a rematch. I dont think it was a very appropriate time to be looking ahead at all.

      • Anonymous

        “but Benson shouldn’t have so much swagger after a performance that was powerful but still left some question marks for a lot of fans.”
        Hmm…He beat one of the pound for pound best fighters in the world (at least if u ask Dana and Co) decisevely in a five round fight.
        Honestly I don’t think pettis deserves the shot atm. He should at least put down one more top contender before getting the title shot. Benson had 1 loss and that was a very close decision against Pettis. But after that he avenged himself by beating three (well at least two) top contenders in a row and without any doubt: Bocek, Guida and Miller.
        In my book thats a bit different from suffering a definitive loss against Guida, then getting a split decision over Stephens and finally knocking out Lauzon in great fashion. It’s just not enough for a title shot. He needs to have at least one more win and I’d love to see him fight another great wrestler like Maynard to really prove he’s earned the title fight. Don’t u agree?

  • Matt Silliman

    As talented as the LW division is right now, There aren’t any fighters on a big winning streak except Benson.  Diaz has like 2 or 3 in a row at LW, Jim Miller as 1 since his loss, Pettis has 2. Guillard is on a 2 fight skid, Ceronne is on a loss, Edgar is on a loss, Lauzon is on a Loss. 

    Outside of bringing in Melendez, Pettis has one of the better winning streaks of the top LWs and the timing fits. 

    • Anonymous

      Forgetting about Maynard. Pettis vs Maynard should make for a good fight.

      • Matt Silliman

        I agree that Maynard vs. Pettis would be a great fight and it makes sense, but then who fights Benson?  

        • http://twitter.com/Warriordave927 warriordave927

          True,that maynard would be a great test for pettis but what happens if maynard beats pettis instead of a current contender and a possible future contender you have 2 future contenders,I’m saying this because I wouldn’t think that maynard would deserve another shot after one win,honestly pettis vs Henderson 2 is the best option for right now because of their history,other than that you have to wait for diaz/miller for a while

          • Dogge88

            I got the dilemma if Maynard wins. But who’s to say that’s enough for a title shot? Imo I think UFC are giving away the title shots too easy. Like when Machida got 1 win and automatically got a shot at the title – bullsh*t, I say.
            Even if Maynard should beat Pettis I don’t think he’s ready for Benson. He needs to prove himself maybe two more times before even talking avbout a title shot. Somehow the UFC has managed to take away the “aura” around the belt. 
            I say if Maynard should beat Pettis, why don’t give him a fight with another top contender like the winner of Diaz/Miller in a title contention fight. Or perhaps vs Cerrone who is 4-1 in the UFC. Maybe even Tibau would be a good enough encounter.
            I don’t think that anybody have the right to claim the number 1-contender spot atm. I could wright 15 sentences more but jesus Im exhausted…..  

          • guest

            Have to agree. Another option is something of similar fashion to the “flyweight tournament” they just had. The difference being that the winner of the tournament gets the chance at Bendo. I see no reason why Henderson needs to fight right away, he won just over a week ago. I think a tournament style makes it clear who the top contender is, and gives the shot at the belt a significant meaning. As far as Pettis goes, I do not think he deserves the title shot as of yet.

  • Ed Lib

    I’d rather get Diaz a chance than Pettis. But Melendez would be the best for sure

    • http://twitter.com/Warriordave927 warriordave927

      Yeah but your assuming diaz wins the fight,so if Jim miller beats diaz then does he deserve the shot

  • Aaron_johnson425

    Riddle me this: why is there a consensus that Pettis doesn’t “deserve” a shot against Henderson yet, but somehow Frankie Edgar does? Last time I checked, Pettis beat Henderson. Frankie Edgar didn’t. So how does Frankie’s loss to Henderson trump Pettis’ victory over Henderson when it comes to rematch talk? Especially when the other top contenders are coming off of fresh losses. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I simply don’t understand the logic of the average MMA fan.

    The reason why there is no clear number one contender is because the UFC screwed around with the pointless and unwarranted Edgar/Maynard rematch for so long that all of the top guys eliminated each other from contention. You know, the rematch that everybody said Maynard “deserved”.

    Maynard didn’t take the belt from Edgar. Bring the next contender. Edgar lost the belt. Bring the next contender. Sign the Pettis fight. Then bring the next contender. Unless a guy was robbed, (e.g. Shogun/Machida) or has attained legend status within the organization (e.g. BJ Penn, GSP, Anderson), then have the fight and sign the next contender. The UFC needs to re-establish the hierarchy at 155 and get things moving again. There will continue to be chaos in the contender picture until we get away from this mindset that certain guys are entitled to things “just because”. You either beat the champ or you didn’t. Then you move on.

  • Quardy

    Please don’t base on win streak – if you do then Khabib Nurmagomedov with a 17 fight win streak would get the nod or Edson Barboza with 10 fight win streak. Tony Ferguson with 6 fight win streak (3 in the UFC), etc.

    No you have to look @ the rankings and give it a auto rematch with Edgar or a rematch with Pettis both currently in the top 5 in most rankings.

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