UFC 223 was filled with controversy and disruption throughout, and former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis was affected massively. Going into UFC 223, Anthony Pettis was scheduled to fight #9 ranked lightweight Michael Chiesa, but after Chiesa was injured during Conor McGregor’s bus attack this bout was scrapped.
On The MMA Hour, Anthony Pettis spoke to Ariel Helwani about the moment he found out about Chiesa’s eye injury.
“I go back to my room like what the hell is going on, so I’m looking at the internet because no one’s telling me anything,” Pettis told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “We really learned it as you guys learned it, from social media or from some interview, then all of a sudden it pops up that Chiesa got cut and I’m sitting there like, ‘What’s gonna happen?’ I’m hitting up my management, ‘What’s going on?’ We get word from the UFC that the fight’s going to continue.”
Initially, the fight was still set to continue with Michael Chiesa still attempting to compete, but after he was medically assessed, he was pulled from the card. Whilst this information was still unclear, Pettis continued to cut weight. He made it down to 156.5 pounds when he was informed that the fight was off. After this news, Pettis began to rehydrate believing that he was no longer fighting, but he soon received a call stating that he may still need to make the lightweight limit.
“I get another phone call, ‘Hey, we might need you to make weight again.’ So Thursday night’s just a crazy night,” Pettis said. “Do I make weight? Do I not make weight? Let me just stop where I’m at, I’ll just get down to 156 in the morning, weigh in, and be done with the thing. Because Thursday, it sounded like I wasn’t fighting for sure. And then Friday morning comes around, I’m still 161, 162-ish from rehydrating. Then I start the weight cut and I get down to 156, where I was supposed to be at to weigh in to fight Chiesa. Then the UFC calls, ‘Hey, we might need you to make 155.’ Now I’m just like, what the hell is going on? I didn’t even know why I had to make 155. So I jumped back in the bath, I get down to 155.4 and I’m just confused, and kind of frustrated and annoyed, I didn’t know what was going on. We all saw what happened.”
When Max Holloway was forced to pull out of his main event lightweight title bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov due to weight cutting issues, Anthony Pettis’ name was one of the first put forward to step in and replace him, but Pettis claims that he was never formally offered a deal to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“They kind of offered me the fight, there was never really numbers talk, there was never a contract given, but they’re like, ‘You’re in consideration for fighting for the title.’ Obviously, I wanted it, but Duke (Roufus) was like, ‘You cut weight three times now and let’s talk about this and figure it out and make sure it makes sense.’ For us, I guess it didn’t go our way, but I was ready to go.”
On Friday’s weigh-ins, Pettis would make it down to 155.2, but he decided to not cut the extra 0.2 pounds and make the required weight to fight Khabib. After consulting with his team, Pettis decided that it wasn’t worth considering.
Pettis’ teammate Paul Felder was also offered the opportunity to fight Khabib for the lightweight title. After Pettis realised that other fighters were being offered the bout he decided to stop cutting weight.
“I found out just like everybody else,” Pettis said. “Paul called Duke and he’s like, ‘Hey, they’re asking me about a fight with Khabib.’ So at that point, I’m not going to put my body through this if they’re offering other people the fight. It’s kind of pointless for me to be sitting here on weight and trying to make another .2 pounds — I probably could have just sat in the sauna and made .2 — but I don’t know, it was kind of all over the place.”
In an interview with MMANews, Pettis spoke about how he aimed to climb back to the top of the MMA mountain, earning a title shot and becoming the #1 fighter in the world again. After the events of UFC 223, Pettis reflected on the missed opportunity to regain the UFC lightweight title.
“I’m sitting there thinking about everything that took place,” Pettis said. “I had the opportunity to fight for a title right in front of me and it was so close, but at the same time, it just makes me that much more hungry. I’m right there. I’ve gotta get some wins, I’ve gotta get some impressive finishes. I think my mindset is right, where I’m at, my body’s healthy. The best thing about this is I can go right back to the gym and start training and figure out what’s next.”
Anthony Pettis is still interested in fighting Michael Chiesa, with UFC 225 in June being mentioned, but it’s unclear when Chiesa will be cleared to fight again.
Should Anthony Pettis have taken this rare opportunity?