UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will likely miss the first half of 2014 after having knee surgery to repair damage he suffered recently that pushed him out of his scheduled bout against Josh Thomson in December.
UFC president Dana White revealed on Thursday when speaking to FOX Sports that Pettis' knee will put him under the knife and keep him out of action for several months. A previous report from UFC Tonight stated that Pettis was still seeking a second opinion next week, so something could potentially change although White seemed confident in the diagnosis.
"He's going to have the surgery. (He's out) 7 or 8 months," White said.
As for the lightweight contenders, which include both Josh Thomson and former No. 1 ranked challenger T.J. Grant, it seems both will move forward with fights while Pettis recovers. White stated the company won't consider an interim title at this time, but neither Thomson or Grant is guaranteed anything upon Pettis' return.
"Those guys will keep fighting," White said.
Injuries have derailed a big part of Pettis' career with the UFC since he moved there in 2011. Pettis defeated Joe Lauzon in early 2012, but then sat out the rest of the year due to injuries that prevented him from returning to action. Following a knockout win over Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone in January 2013, Pettis was then scheduled to face featherweight champion Jose Aldo in a potential super fight, but that was also cancelled due to injury.
White says that Pettis is potentially one of the biggest stars being built on the UFC's roster, but the litany of injuries he continues to endure are definitely pushing him back from where he could be right now without them.
"It's very unfortunate," White said. "I'm not kidding you when I say this, I think the two most talented guys right now, the two guys that I think are the hottest prospects to become huge superstars are Renan Barao and (Anthony) Pettis."
If Pettis does seek out additional medical expertise, his return time could be cut down dramatically, but there is also the chance that without surgery he could re-injure the knee forcing him out for an even longer period of time.
There's been no word from the UFC on how soon Thomson could
return to action or if they are indeed waiting on Pettis' timetable
before making that decision.