- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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Pettis was hospitalized on Monday with a staph infection in his elbow. The Milwaukee-based fighter is hoping for a quick release, but the news jeopardizes a highly anticipated fight between he and Cerrone, expected to take place in January.
Cerrone admitted to ESPN.com he doesn’t believe Pettis is avoiding him, but after fighting only twice in 2012, the itch to simply get back in the cage is growing.
“We were supposed to go in Denver, no,” Cerrone said. “OK, we’ll be ready in December. No, now we’ll actually be ready in January. Now is it February, March? How long can you just (wait) -- I don’t know.
“I understand the guy is hurt, but I got bills to pay, too.”
A fight between the two lightweights is expected to determine the next No. 1 contender. Current champion Ben Henderson is scheduled to defend the belt against Nate Diaz at a UFC on Fox event on Dec. 8.
Due to his current standing in the division, Cerrone (19-4-1) might not be a guy the UFC wants to throw in against anyone -- as they did in 2011 when he fought five times.
While he’s willing to take any fight, even if it’s a welterweight matchup, it’s clear the promotion is looking at him as a potential champion.
“Joe (Silva’s) attitude is, ‘Why would you want to go from the top of the division to fight somebody in the middle and potentially risk everything,’” Cerrone said. “My management team says the same thing, ‘You should want the belt.’ I do want that belt.
“(The Pettis fight) is the No. 1 contendership. Of course it means something to me. That’s the ultimate goal is to get that title. That makes sense. Does waiting on him make sense? I don’t know.”
Cerrone had planned to start training camp on Nov. 1 in anticipation of a January fight. For now, he says he remains in limbo. His next step will be talk it over with his team and determine how long he’s willing to continue waiting.
“At this point, if they call me tomorrow and say, ‘We need you next week,’ I’ll be game,” he said. “I don’t know what the next step is.”