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UFC 181: Anthony Pettis will finish Gilbert Melendez in round one

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis, isn't short on confidence as he heads into his first-ever title defense against Gilbert Melendez, which is set to serve as the co-main event at UFC 181 on Dec. 6, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"Showtime" likes his chances against "El Nino" so much, that he says he won't need more than five minutes to get the job done against the former Strikeforce kingpin. But that doesn't mean he has any animosity toward Melendez, who he dubbed a "cool" person during their stint as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20.

The same probably can't be said for Khabib Nurmagomedov, who has been accusing Pettis of ducking him. But rest assured, once Pettis deals with Melendez, Khabib's time will come.

"Showtime" said as much during a recent interview with Combate (via Bloody Elbow):

"The fans can expect me finishing this fight in the first round. I've been out for a year and I'm excited to be back. I'm healthy, ready to fight and unfortunately, Melendez will be my first opponent after my return. I say unfortunately because I'm sure that I won't need more than one round. I have to shut up a lot of people and I have others to face. Gilbert is a cool guy, but we haven't chatted so much during the season and we haven't had any arguing. He was there to be a coach and so was I. I'm a fighter and I have a belt for a reason. I got injured and couldn't train like I wished but I'm back. When Khabib's time comes, we'll fight. Now I have Melendez in front of me and that is my concern but if Khabib is next, we'll fight."

While you can't knock his confidence, the odds of finishing Melendez are stacked against Pettis, as "El Nino" has yet to be finished in his 12-year mixed martial arts (MMA) career. Plus, Anthony hasn't competed in over a year due to injury, so he may need a few minutes to get warmed up in an actual fight.

Then again, if Dominick Cruz can return after three years on the sidelines and blitz through Takeya Mizugaki (see it), then Pettis might have a shot, as well. Of course, the level of competition Anthony is facing is much, much higher.

No disrespect to Takeya.

Still, you have to appreciate Anthony's mindset going into their fight, as he isn't looking to play it safe against one of the best fighters in the world coming off such a long layoff.

Can he pull it off?

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