By Adam Martin
Earlier this week, former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis announced that he will be dropping down to featherweight for his next fight. Pettis, who is still only 29 years old, has lost three straight fights -- to Rafael dos Anjos, Eddie Alvarez, and Edson Barboza -- so he's switching weight classes in an effort to revive his career. Before this losing skid, Pettis was 18-2 in his career and 5-1 in the UFC, so the way his career unfolded has been surprising. To be fair to Pettis, he has fought some of the best lightweight fighters in his defeats, and he was able to at least not get finished in his losses. That being said, the bottom line is a three-fight losing streak is bad for anyone, and he desperately needs to get back in the win column, hence the move to 145 lbs.
Now, the question is who Pettis will fight in his featherweight debut. Despite his recent skid, Pettis is an exciting fighter, and there are some really nice matchups for him. Considering his losing streak, it's better for Pettis to work his way up the ladder slowly instead of getting thrown in the deep end right away, so keep that in mind when reading this list of possible opponents:
Dennis Siver: The opponent who probably makes the most sense for Pettis' featherweight debut is Siver. He's 37, has lost his last two fights, and is just 1-3 with 1 NC over his last five matches. It's clear he's on the downside of his career. At the same time, he is a striker and is usually involved in exciting, "Fight of the Night"-type matches, so he makes an ideal opponent for Pettis to style on and announce himself as a featherweight contender.
Sam Sicilia: If the UFC wants to build Pettis up really slowly, it can start by looking at the bottom of the ladder, and handpick a favorable matchup for Pettis . Enter Sicilia. The TUF 15 veteran is 5-5 in the UFC but has never been able to sustain a winning streak, and in his last fight he was knocked out by Doo Ho Choi. Having said that, Sicilia is an exciting fighter who likes to stand and bang, and would likely make for a fun fight with Pettis, albeit a fight he would be a considerable underdog in.
Chan Sung Jung: "The Korean Zombie" is set to return later this year after his two-year mandatory military service assignment in South Korea. Jung is only 29 and the last time we saw him at UFC 163 in August 2013, he lost to then-champion Jose Aldo in a title fight. Jung was one of the most exciting fighters on the roster before he left the sport, and hopefully when he comes back he's the same. A fight between him and Pettis has "Fight of the Night" written all over it.
Ricardo Lamas: If the UFC decides that it wants to just throw Pettis in the deep end right away and see if he's a title contender, then Lamas is the guy. He just lost to Max Holloway at UFC
199, but he showed his toughness in the fight and put on an exciting performance in defeat. Lamas is one of the most well-rounded fighters at 145lbs, but he has holes in his game, holes that Pettis could potentially exploit.