Anthony Pettis won the UFC lightweight title in August 2013 by submitting Benson Henderson. That was also the last time he fought, and will fight, for some time thanks to injuries and the UFC booking him as a coach of The Ultimate Fighter.
Many fighters below Pettis have not taken kindly to the champ being unable to defend his belt and keeping the rest of the division in limbo. Contenders Khabib Nurmagomedov and Josh Thomson have both mocked Pettis, for example.
The young champion insists that the criticism of his long lay-off is unfounded. For one reason, his injuries have been serious and required recovery.
However, Pettis states that he could be ready to fight again by August, but that he won't be able to because of his commitment to coaching The Ultimate Fighter.
"I don't think these guys are educated whatsoever," Pettis said of his critical division rivals in a recent MMA Fighting interview.
"The TUF gig is something I didn't choose to happen. The UFC chose that. I'm not going to say no to an opportunity like that. That signs me up for three months filming for that, so that's why the fight got pushed back all the way. I could be ready to fight by August, at the latest. From now to August, if I started a training camp, I could be ready to go."
Pettis said that he took six months off from kicking entirely and recently began his training again. "We had a sparring session and I felt good. Definitely, I wouldn't say it was 100 percent. I still feel like I'm second guessing the knee, but it's still fresh off. I think with two months of kicking, I'll be back normal," the champ estimated.
All in all, Pettis said that his time off has made him antsy, but also given him time to heal a bunch of injuries. His next fight is scheduled to be against Gilbert Melendez, who "Showtime" is coaching opposite on the season of TUF.