clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UFC 181's Anthony Pettis says he's entering his peak, Gilbert Melendez on way out of his

Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

At age 27, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Champion, Anthony Pettis, is certainly in the prime of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career.

Sure, he hasn't seen much action over the last year because of an unfortunate knee injury, but his last few performances  -- which includes a first-round submission over Ben Henderson to capture the strap -- could be a sign that "Showtime" could be dominating the sport for some quite time.

At least that's the plan.

As Pettis heads into UFC 181, which goes down this weekend (Sat., Dec. 6, 2014) in Las Vegas, Nevada, he tells MMA Fighting that he aims to show the combat sports world that he is just getting started against a man who is slowly drifting out of his peak, Gilbert Melendez.

His words:

"I feel like he's on his way out of the peak of his career, and I'm just entering it. I think his peak of his career, I wouldn't say it's passed, but he's not starting it anymore. I'm just starting to tap into my grown-man strength, my full potential, my knowledge of fighting. I'm very confident in this fight."

Still, Pettis is expecting "El Nino" to provide a stiff challenge, as the former Strikeforce champion has proven time and again that he is as tough as they come. But, outside from the chance of losing a decision, Pettis doesn't see Melendez finishing him.

"I don't really have an elaborate game plan or anything like that. He's a tough guy. Good boxing. I know he's gonna try to wrestle me. Anybody that fights me is going to try to wrestle me, take me down -- Clay Guida. I'm not afraid of anything. He most likely won't knock me out. He most likely won't submit me. He might take me down and hold me down. The only thing I'm afraid of is losing a decision. As long as I keep that mindset to win at the end of the rounds, I'll be fine."

As always, Pettis says he'll aim for a first-round finish. But, if the five-round fight happens to make it out of the first frame, then Melendez and the rest of the MMA world will get to see just how well "Showtime" can perform.

"They haven't seen how my game has changed and how good I've actually got. If Melendez is tough enough to make it out of the first round, they're actually going to see how good my game is."

Melendez, though, has shown over his career that he is more than capable of hanging for five-rounds, as he has been involved in a total of seven championship fights that have gone the distance.

This title fight, however, could prove to be his toughest yet.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania