Coach: UFC didn’t want Anthony Pettis-Donald Cerrone rematch, Dan Hardy wants Pettis for comeback fight

Anthony Pettis | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Anthony Pettis is gearing up for a busy 2020.

This year, “Showtime” only managed a couple of in-cage appearances, but both were memorable. In March, he scored a wicked second-round KO of two-time welterweight title challenger Stephen Thompson in the main event of a show in Nashville, Tenn., then he followed that up by welcoming Nate Diaz back to the Octagon in a three-round fight at UFC 241 that Pettis lost by unanimous decision.

Pettis broke his foot in the Diaz fight, but according to coach Duke Roufus he is doing “great” health-wise ahead of a matchup with Diego Ferreira reportedly set for Jan. 18. With Ferreira lined up, that puts to rest the rumor that Pettis was set to rematch Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. The two previously fought at a UFC on FOX show in January 2013, with Pettis winning by first-round knockout to earn himself a lightweight title shot against Benson Henderson.

Both fighters were on-board for the rematch, according to Roufus, and it’s the UFC who shot down the matchup.

“They wanted to fight each other, they both accepted the fight, the UFC just doesn’t want to do it,” Roufus told MMA Fighting. “It’s definitely not Cowboy. They both were down to do it, it’s just the UFC didn’t want to do the fight.”

It’s possible that Pettis may end up fighting on the same card as Cerrone anyway since Cowboy has been rumored to be in talks to fight Conor McGregor at the Jan. 18 show, which would explain why the matchmakers passed on a Pettis-Cerrone rematch.

Though Pettis is returning to 155 pounds in 2020, Roufus is fine with his longtime student bouncing between lightweight and welterweight. The former UFC champion turns 33 in January and Roufus thinks he’s at the stage of his career where the big picture is whichever one is facing him down at the moment.

“We’re taking everything one fight at a time,” Roufus said. “I think that’s where we can complicate the life sometimes, when you make all sorts of plans … you get caught up in the big plan, really the minor plan is where they want to be, but the major plan is winning the fight ahead of you. That’s our mindset coming into 2020. Win the fight that’s ahead of us.

“That was the mentality when he faced Wonderboy and I’m just excited. There’s still a lot of fight left in him.”

One name that Roufus threw out as a future opponent for Pettis is former welterweight contender and current UFC analyst Dan Hardy. “The Outlaw” has not competed since September 2012, his career put on hold after he was diagnosed with Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome; however, the 37-year-old has never ruled out a return to competition and according to Roufus, it’s Hardy who first expressed interest in fighting Pettis.

“I’ve heard through the grapevine that Dan Hardy in his comeback wants to fight Anthony, that’s a good fight,” Roufus said. “Not in any way putting Dan down, I think that stylistically it’s a great fight for both fighters, for the fans, and that’s what we’re trying to do is find good fights that are interesting in our aspects.

“Obviously, fitting for both guys, but at the same time it’s good for Anthony’s brand to fight the people he wants to fight, and his legacy.”

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