Dana White: Anthony Pettis is the UFC’s Next Superstar, If…

Written by Tom Ngo
May 13th, 2014

UFC Lightweight Anthony Pettis

What typically separates stars from superstars is what’s commonly referred to as the “it” factor. It’s that je ne sais quoi that draws people to them each time they take center stage.

UFC president Dana White believes lightweight champion Anthony Pettis (pictured) has the “it” factor. At the same time, his “it” is often overshadowed by the “if” factor – as in, IF he can stay healthy.

“Yeah, it definitely doesn’t help,” White said this weekend of the constant injuries that have stalled Pettis’ ascent to superstardom. “Because the next kid that’s gonna explode, and if he could stay healthy, is Pettis. Without a doubt. Pettis is such a badass, unbelievably talented fighter. I love his attitude, I just love everything about that kid. It is truly an honor to watch that kid perform.

“The running on the cage, the bouncing off the cage and the knee to [Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone], beats Ben Henderson in the first round when Ben Henderson’s fought the who’s who of that division and they all went to decisions – that sometimes you were questioning whether Ben won or lost that fight – Pettis goes out and did what he did.”

What “Showtime” did in August was submit Henderson to capture the 155-pound crown. What Pettis did two months later was tear the PCL in his left knee. The 27-year-old underwent surgery in November and hasn’t been seen since.

Of course, it wasn’t the first time Pettis has had problems with his knees. An injured right knee forced him out of his scheduled UFC 163 fight against featherweight champ Jose Aldo.

“Showtime” has only fought three times since February 2012.

To remind fans of Pettis’ star power, White assigned him and former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez to serve as opposing coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter 20.” Pettis and Melendez will then collide at the UFC’s end of the year extravaganza – assuming, of course…

“If [Pettis] can stay healthy, I think he’s gonna be such a huge star,” White said in closing.

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