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UFC 181: Anthony Pettis aims to reach Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey status by winning four fights in 2015

And it all begins this Saturday against Gilbert Melendez.

Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight titleholder, Anthony Pettis, will make his much-anticipated return to the Octagon this weekend (Sat., Dec. 6, 2014) when he defends his title for the first time against Gilbert Melendez at UFC 181.

If he's successful, Pettis hopes to eliminate some of the doubters (like this one) who have been criticizing him for spending over a year on the sidelines, though it's not like he had a choice, as a knee injury forced him out of action since claiming the title in August of 2013.

And though his fight against "El Nino" will be his first in 16 months, Pettis is eyeing four fights in the next calendar year in hopes of reaching Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones superstar status, as he recently told FOX Sports.

"That's what's happening in 2015. That's my big goal. Making sure we get all of the doubters out of the way. They haven't seen me fight in a while so they forgot what happened. December, I'm going to start it off strong. Get another one in March or April and then July or August and then finish the year strong in December. If I can run a year like that, my name will be up there for sure."

Of course, staying healthy is the first step, as Pettis -- among others -- have fallen victim to the injury bug during training sessions. Though he admits he will be a bit more careful as he gets older, he isn't going to flat-out change his training regimen for fear of getting hurt.

Starting with Melendez, Pettis hopes to reel off a huge win streak, as he plans to run the 155-pound division for a long time.

"I for sure know I've got the potential to run this division for a long time. At the same time I've had these injuries. It sucks. I train hard. My style's very dynamic so I train the way I fight. I'm not going to change it up. That's how I like to fight. I'm not going to go into my training camps afraid to hurt myself because I don't want to be injured for the next fight. I'm going to go out there and do what got this belt around my waist. A little safer as I'm getting older. I think I'm due to a good four or five fight streak. It can only get better from here."

And Pettis looks to start his win streak in dominant fashion, as he aims to take Melendez out in the very first round, just like he did his previous three opponents.

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