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With Nate Diaz waiting for a title shot, who should the UFC book against Anthony Pettis when he returns?
RICH HANSEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
Since they are going through with Henderson vs. Edgar, how about Pettis vs. Eddie Alvarez?
Simple attrition rules out a lot of fighters. Pettis isn't getting Henderson, Diaz, or Edgar next. The UFC is highly unlikely to put Gray Maynard in a #1 contender fight if he beats Clay Guida, because the last thing they want is for Maynard to be within 42 miles of being a PPV headliner. If Guida wins, they aren't going to book Pettis vs. Guida again. In both cases, they don't want Pettis vs. a wrestler, because there has to be a fear of Pettis getting off of his back. Jim Miller is coming off of a loss. Donald Cerrone is coming off of a loss. Jacob Volkmann, Mark Bocek, and Gleison Tibau have less name recognition than Jadamba Narantungalag, and less appeal than Brad Walker in a Chippendale's review (Patrick Swayze he aint).
So who's left? Eddie F***ing Alvarez, that's who. Even without making the case FOR Alvarez, he's the best possible option for Pettis. Alvarez is free sometime in September, which means he conceivably could fight in the UFC as soon as October. Sergio Pettis told MMATorch, and by "MMATorch" I mean he told ME (cheap plug, lots of humility) that Anthony was looking at October or November for a return. The last thing anyone should want to see is for Pettis to return to action before he's ready to return. So put him in the cage in November against Eddie Alvarez.
As for the fight itself, if I have to sell the merits of Eddie F***ing Alvarez vs. Anthony Pettis, God help us all.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I'd have Pettis fight Donald Cerrone if Cerrone beats Jeremy Stephens on May 15 at UFC on Fuel TV: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier. An alternative would be to have him fight Gray Maynard if Maynard beats Clay Guida at UFC on FX 4 on June 22.
BRAD WALKER, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
Pettis needs to step into Strikeforce and fight Gilbert Melendez, if that fight can't happen there are not a whole lot of challenging fights out there for him. Unless he wants to call out B.J. Penn or try to add another loss to Jim Miller's record. The top end of the division is pretty much booked solid, and unless Eddie Alvarez makes his way to the Octagon there are very few fights that make sense for Pettis outside of the top trio of Henderson, Edgar and Diaz.
ANWAR PEREZ, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
With a returning Anthony Pettis, who wouldn't mind seeing a returning BJ Penn to the division? The UFC were trying to convince Penn to possibly fight Gilbert Melendez, but a fight against Pettis would be just as intriguing. It'd be a great test for Pettis and more importantly, a win would solidify a title shot in the lightweight division.
ERIC HOBAUGH, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think the UFC should book Anthony Pettis against the winner of Clay Guida vs. Gray Maynard fight. I am convinced Maynard will win big against Guida, so that sets up a great fight. This will tell us if Pettis is ready for his title shot. This is also one of the most exciting fights out there in the lightweight division.
DAN MOORE, MMATORCH UK CONTRIBUTOR
I'd love to see him face Edson Barboza, so if the Brazilian beats Jamie Varner later this month, get that fight booked little Joe Silva. The other alternative would be Donald Cerrone if he gets past Jeremy Stephens next week. Again that would be a fun fight with plenty of fireworks, even if Cerrone is coming off a big loss to Nate Diaz. Whatever the UFC decides though, please don't let it be Mark Bocek. That fight would be a little like asking Vincent van Gogh to produce a magical piece of art, with only worn out coloring pens, and the back of a cigarette packet to do it.
JASON AMADI, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
Assuming Sean Sherk is still alive (which I don't think any fight fan in the world can confirm at this point) I think he's a big enough name and has the skills set to really legitimize Pettis as a lightweight contender.
If Pettis gets by a wrestler that caliber of Sean Sherk, perhaps that would appease all the whiners who call for everyone to "beat a wrestler" before getting a title shot (even in spite the fact that Pettis has already defeated several).
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