Anthony Pettis has a message for Nate Diaz: 'Work your way up and we can fight'

Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

Even though he is on the shelf with a knee injury, Anthony Pettis is still lining up potential opponents for his Octagon return.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) matchmaker Joe Silva may not have to put any thought into who lightweight champion Anthony Pettis fights for quite some time.

Not only is "Showtime" out of action with another injury to his knee, the current division kingpin was already slated to fight former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson at UFC on FOX 9. Add in the fact that T.J. Grant arguably deserves a shot when he returns from recurring concussions and Pettis looks like he has a busy 2014 ahead of him.

Enter Nate Diaz, the self-proclaimed co-owner (alongside Gilbert Melendez) of the 155-pound weight class, who just last week sent Gray Maynard back to UFC Fight Night 20 with a first round we haven't seen from the Stockton native since his bout with Jim Miller at UFC on FOX 3.

During the past month, Diaz has been slowly pecking away at "Showtime" via social media, questioning the champ's fortitude when it comes to being plagued by ailments. Then there was the rumored altercation between the two camps in Las Vegas.

For the most part, Pettis had remained relatively quiet, unlike a previous period where he claimed a fight with Diaz would make for an "easy payday."

Everything changed after the professional wrestling-esque promo following his dismantling of Maynard. There, in the center of the Octagon, Diaz publicly called out Pettis and bluntly told the Milwaukee native to hurry back, cuz' he and "El Nino" are both waiting for him.

On this week's episode of UFC Tonight, Pettis seems to have finally given into exactly what Diaz wants: an eventual grudge match between the two, where Diaz receives a payday double what he received last week, and a young champion who is fighting with his heart.

"The doctor said six to eight months. I’m hoping six months, so hopefully I’ll be back for a July fight," said Pettis. "Nate Diaz has been talking so much. He looked pretty decent in his last fight. I hope he works his way up and we get to fight."

Diaz responds:

While Chael Sonnen has been known to employ such tactics, the Diaz brothers have made the method of inducing grudge fights famous.

Who benefits most -- besides the fans --from this developing scenario?

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