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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.”

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