New lightweight champion Anthony "Showtime" Pettis will make the first defense of his title against T.J. Grant, UFC president Dana White told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday, but it won't be until early 2014.
That's because examinations showed that Pettis suffered a Grade 2 sprain of his left knee during his title-winning effort against Benson Henderson Saturday at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Pettis tried to check a Henderson kick and got caught squarely on the kneecap. Surgery will not be required, but Pettis won't be able to train for seven to eight weeks.
"Henderson threw a kick and I went to check it with my left leg," Pettis said at the post-fight news conference on Saturday. "He hit right in the crook of the knee. I felt it go back-and-forth."
As a result, Pettis won't be in action until early 2014. He injured his right knee in training for a featherweight title fight against Jose Aldo that was supposed to be the main event at UFC 163 in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 3. But the knee healed quicker than he thought and when Grant suffered a concussion in training and was forced to pull out of his fight with Henderson, Pettis stepped in.
He put on a brilliant performance against Henderson and won the belt with an arm bar submission late in the first round.
Earlier on Tuesday, White said that Grant would be Pettis' next challenger. Former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson was openly lobbying for the shot, and Aldo wanted Pettis again.
But White said it was a no-brainer that Grant deserved it.
"It's only fair that T.J. get the next shot," White told Yahoo Sports. "Pettis will fight T.J. when he's ready and then we'll see what happens after that."
Later on Tuesday, the UFC's official Twitter account tweeted that if Pettis beats Grant, he'd likely meet Aldo next.