By Jonathan Solomon
With just six weeks left before he was to fight for the featherweight championship, Anthony Pettis has been forced to withdraw from UFC 163 in Brazil due to a knee injury.
First word came from company president Dana White on Twitter, “Pettis hurt his knee, Korean Zombie will now face Jose Aldo for the title on the Aug card in Rio Brazil.”
“Showtime” later confirmed he suffered a small tear in his meniscus and he said he will be back soon.
“The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung is 13-3 overall and on an active three-fight win streak. Since 2011, he has submitted Leonard Garcia and Dustin Poirier and knocked out Mark Hominick. Last summer, he underwent surgery to repair a shoulder injury, following the win over Poirier.
Prior to this turn of events, Jung had been scheduled to fight Ricardo Lamas on July 6 at UFC 162 in a bout to determine the next top contender in the featherweight division. Until further news drops, Lamas is currently without an opponent for a card that is just three weeks away.
The injury to Pettis brings up an intriguing question as to whether he will return to the lightweight division and scrap the plan to fight at featherweight. The plan all along had been for him to either stay at 145-pounds if he were to defeat Aldo or return to 155-pounds in the event he lost. “Showtime” was one of the top lightweight contenders but chose to drop down a weight class earlier this year because he was not willing to wait for the outcome of the April title fight between Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez.
Henderson won that fight and is next set to defend the championship against T.J. Grant on August 31 at UFC 164. It’s possible, assuming Pettis can return before the end of 2013, that he would be granted a title fight against the winner in the fall.
This will not be the first time the former WEC champion will miss time since becoming a UFC fighter. Last year, he missed several months after undergoing shoulder surgery. Then, in October, he was hospitalized with a Staph infection in his elbow. He was able to return earlier this year when he finished “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone via liver kick in the first round.
The new main event for UFC 163 tops off a card featuring Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis, Demian Maia vs. Josh Koscheck, Vinny Magalhaes vs. Anthony Perosh and Clint Hester vs. Cezar Ferreira.
What are your thoughts?