As is often the case with great fight series in the sport of mixed martial arts, trilogies are a popular way of settling disputes between two fighters with unfinished business.
Trilogies like Chuck Liddell vs. Randy Couture and Gray Maynard vs. Frankie Edgar have become a part of the UFC’s fighting fabric. They have defined eras and provided fans with some of the sport’s most memorable scraps and rivalries.
Following newly minted UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis’ first-round armbar submission victory over Benson Henderson at UFC 164 in his hometown of Milwaukee on Saturday night, talk immediately shifted to who is next?
For many, seeing as their first fight at WEC 53 was so hotly contested, and Henderson’s reign as UFC champ was so authoritative, the prospect of a third fight between the two 155-pounders somewhere down the road seemed like a logical possibility.
According to UFC president Dana White, however, making a trilogy between Pettis and Henderson isn’t logical at all.
When a fighter goes 0-2 against same opponent, it's somewhat of an unwritten policy that there won’t be a third fight anytime soon.
Such is the case the Henderson in regards to Pettis, who has now defeated Henderson twice.
“Definitely. That is definitely the case,” said White in a scrum with reporters following UFC 164. “We had the fight with Ben and Frankie (Edgar) where some people thought (it was a questionable decision); there's no (expletive) denying who won this fight. It was a first-round annihilation. Kind of like the Vitor/Anderson thing.”
Despite the nature of their first encounter, exciting as it was, Pettis still won that fight via unanimous decision. And let’s not forget that whole “Showtime Kick” thing.
After taking Henderson’s belt, Pettis let it be known that he would like to challenge featherweight champion Jose Aldo, as they have “unfinished business.” But usually a fighter has to defend his belt a few times before he goes looking to change divisions and throws around talk of a “superfight.”
However, Pettis and Aldo were scheduled to meet at UFC 163 just last month, in a bout that Pettis was forced to withdraw from due to injury. The history and bad blood is certainly still there, especially for Pettis.
Whatever lies next on the horizon for Pettis and Henderson, we know one thing: with numerous Fight Night bonuses to their credit, there is no shortage of action when they step inside the Octagon.
It just won’t be against each other… at least not for a while.
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