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Sunday, August 12, 2012
UFC working on Cerrone-Pettis fight

By Franklin McNeil
ESPN.com

UFC president Dana White will offer Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis an opportunity to face one another in a lightweight title eliminator.

White revealed his plan Saturday night during the UFC 150 postfight news conference in Denver.

"Yeah. I like it," White said. "It sounds like a great idea."

Shortly thereafter, White told MMAFighting.com he intends to designate the fight a 155-pound title eliminator.

"Yes," White said when asked if Pettis-Cerrone would be a title eliminator. "We're going to make it up to Pettis." Pettis was in line to face the Frankie Edgar-Gray Maynard II lightweight title winner. But when that fight ended in a draw on Jan. 1, 2011, UFC scheduled a third bout between Edgar and Maynard.

Pettis was given the option of waiting for Edgar and Maynard to settle matters or take a fight in the meantime. He chose the latter and lost to Clay Guida by unanimous decision on June 4, 2011. That loss knocked Pettis out of the top contender slot.

Pettis has since won each of his two most recent fights to get back into title contention.

Pettis (15-2) is the last man to defeat current UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, who retained his title Saturday night with a split decision over Edgar. They met in December 2010 for Henderson's WEC lightweight title. Pettis won by unanimous decision.

Cerrone (19-4, one no-contest) secured his spot in the title eliminator Saturday night by registering a first-round knockout of former training partner Melvin Guillard.

After the victory Cerrone immediately turned his attention to Pettis.

"The fight I'd like next is Pettis," Cerrone said. "I have to try to control my emotions. When I fight out of emotions it doesn't end up too well. I'm going to stay away from all the crap-talking we do.

"The fight's going to get signed; so sign (Pettis), train hard and I will see you when I see you. Other than that we don't need to talk about it, right?"

Cerrone has repeatedly tossed verbal insults at Pettis. He accuses the former titleholder of avoiding a fight with him. It's an accusation Pettis' handlers have strongly denied. They claim the fighter is rehabbing an injury.

"Anthony does have a serious shoulder injury," Pettis' trainer, Duke Roufus, told ESPN.com recently. "He fought the last two fights with his shoulder damaged in hopes of getting a title shot.

"He's definitely not a guy who is ducking people. Anthony fights whoever the UFC puts in front of him."

White did not specify when the two contenders would meet, but Roufus hopes his fighter will return to action by November.

"He did (have) shoulder surgery and is hoping to get on the Nov. 17 card," Roufus said.

Henderson is slated to face top contender Nate Diaz later this year. No date has been set for that fight.