Despite the fact Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight Anthony Pettis was forced out of his UFC 163 featherweight championship bout with Jose Aldo due to a knee injury, the fighter's coach claims "Showtime" is targeting a return to the cage just four weeks later at UFC 164.
The mixed martial arts (MMA) community was collectively crushed on Friday (June 14, 2013) when UFC President Dana White announced Pettis had withdrawn from the Aug. 3, 2013, event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and would be replaced by Chan Sung Jung.
Pettis took to Twitter to explain that he had a "small tear" in his meniscus and would "be back soon," but never indicated exactly when "soon" was.
Well, according to his head coach Duke Roufus, "soon" could be just 28 days later at UFC 164: "Henderson vs. Grant," which goes down from the Bradley Center in Pettis' hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
"Hoping @Showtimepettis can be ready for @ufc 164 in #Milwaukee," Roufus wrote on Twitter. "Anthony started rehab today no surgery."
It would be somewhat ironic if Pettis did indeed recover in time for UFC 164, particularly due to the fact T.J. Grant will challenge Benson Henderson for the lightweight title in the main event, a fight Pettis had locked up prior to his decision to text Dana White requesting a match up with Aldo.
The 26-year-old competing on the undercard of a championship bout he should have one half of would be extremely disheartening; however, the upside would be that if he wins, the timing to fight the Henderson vs. Grant winner would line up perfectly.
Some have suggested the theory that if Pettis is healthy in time for UFC 164, the UFC could pull the old switcheroo and pull Grant from the main event and make the highly anticipated rematch between Pettis and Henderson.
White was quick to dismiss that notion, flatly denying the claim and saying Pettis and Roufus' hopes for a return to the cage at UFC 164 are completely unrealistic.
"Anthony Pettis came today and was telling Ariel (Helwani) he's going to be ready by the end of August, which is not true," White said (via MMA Junkie). "He talked to a doctor, and the doctor said he's out for a good six weeks and he needs a good (physical) therapist and he needs to get his knee back. That's what a doctor said. He talked to a therapist in Milwaukee who told him three weeks. I could give a s--t what the therapist in Milwaukee thinks - I'm listening to the doctor. And I'm going to fly him out to Las Vegas to see Dr. (Steven) Saunders, too, for a second opinion."
"I'm in no hurry," White said. "Nobody's more bummed out about the Pettis (vs. Aldo) fight than me - I was talking to you guys about it Thursday. But I'm not going to put Pettis in there in three and a half weeks when it should take six weeks for his knee to heal.
"He's definitely in line (still at featherweight), but we'll see what happens. He could do either - he could fight Aldo or he could fight the winner of (Henderson) and T.J. Grant."
While anything can happen in the future, the only thing that matters now is that there are three certainties.
Pettis is injured, Aldo is scheduled to fight "The Korean Zombie" and tickets are already on sale for Henderson vs. Grant.
Will any of that change going forward? Only time will tell.