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Injured UFC champ Anthony Pettis hopes for July return

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Anthony Pettis hopes to be back kicking by summer (Getty)

Anthony Pettis is both on top of the world, and on the outside looking in. The new UFC lightweight champion shocked the world with a quick submission title win over Benson Henderson last August in his home town of Milwaukee but soon re-injured his knee and had to undergo surgery.

The man he was supposed to fight next in defense of his title, Josh Thomson, fights this Saturday in Chicago in the main event of the UFC on Fox 10 card against Henderson. Pettis will watch that bout, and his younger brother Sergio's undercard fight, from the sidelines.

However, the older Pettis recently told UFC Tonight that he hopes to be back fighting in the Octagon as early as mid-summer. “The doctor said six to eight months, so I’m hoping six months,” Pettis told UFC Tonight right after his surgery.

On Wednesday night, Pettis reiterated to UFC Tonight that he planned to be fully recovered on the early side of that estimate. An orthopedic surgeon who also spoke with UFC Tonight didn't paint such a rosy picture, however.

Pettis told UFC Tonight that his knee physical therapy rehabilitation is going well and that he intends to return in July. Pettis' manager, Mike Roberts, also said that Pettis wants to fight on the UFC’s July 5 card, traditionally one of the promotion's two biggest events f the year.

Dr. Robert Klapper, an orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Group, who was a guest on UFC Tonight, said that Pettis' estimates are very optimistic and that his injury is very difficult to recover from.

“Coming back in July, that’s really optimistic,” Klapper said.

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