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UFC:

Anthony Pettis fueled by remarks from Gray Maynard

Pettis fights Clay Guida in two weeks at the Palms, while Edgar vs. Maynard III awaits rescheduling

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Anthony Pettis celebrates after beating Mike Campbell by submission in the first round of a World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight mixed martial arts fight Sunday, June 7, 2009, in Sacramento, Calif.

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UFC lightweight fighter Gray Maynard at Travis Barker's Famous Stars and Straps and UFC's The Magic Party and red carpet at XS at the Encore on Feb. 15, 2011.

As two of the top lightweights in the world, it’s easy to imagine UFC top contender Gray Maynard and former WEC champion Anthony Pettis fighting sometime in the near future.

The two have created some intrigue in the matchup through their words recently. Maynard, a Las Vegas native, spoke negatively about Pettis in an interview earlier this month. Pettis, who fights out of Milwaukee, responded while in Las Vegas last week.

“He needs to get his face in the media somehow,” Pettis said while in town to promote Xyience, his new sponsor. “Gray is the No. 1 contender, but no one talks about him. He doesn’t get a lot of press. I think he’s trying to figure out a way to get people to talk about him. If he has to use my name to do that, he has to do what he has to do.”

Pettis was supposed to face the winner of the UFC 125 title fight between Maynard and champion Frankie Edgar. When the bout ended in a draw, UFC skipped over Pettis to give Maynard an immediate rematch.

Pettis now faces Clay Guida in a headlining contest at The Ultimate Fighter season 13 finale June 4 in Las Vegas. Pettis will face the winner of the Edgar vs. Maynard rematch, which was postponed because of injuries, if he gets past Guida.

That’s a luxury Maynard (10-0-1) isn’t sure Pettis (13-1) has earned. Asked if he lost any sleep over bypassing Pettis for a championship rematch, Maynard questioned Pettis’ credentials.

“I sleep better,” Maynard told Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association. “I mean, who has he fought? I’ve been in the trenches this whole time fighting the toughest guys. He throws one kick and then he’s the greatest in the world?”

“I don’t care about how good you looked when you fought a scrub. That doesn’t matter. If a guy isn’t good, then you’re supposed to look good.”

Pettis said he believed Maynard’s comments came because of the perception that lightweights from the WEC, which merged with UFC at the beginning of the year, were on a lower level than their counterparts in the UFC. It’s an opinion Pettis adamantly disagrees with.

Pettis pointed out that three guys he beat last year in WEC — Ben Henderson, Shane Roller and Danny Castillo — have gone a combined 3-0 in their UFC debuts the past two months.

“I feel more bad for the WEC guys that he called scrubs,” Pettis said. “He said the guys I beat are scrubs, but they are doing great in the UFC.”

If both Pettis and Maynard win in their upcoming contests, a title fight between the two could conceivably take place by the end of the year. But Pettis doesn’t expect it to happen.

He’s predicting Edgar to retain his belt and beat Maynard.

“I think Frankie’s a better fighter,” Pettis said. “He’s more exciting, faster — I think little for a 155er — but if he can avoid that big left hook, I think he’ll have a good fight.”

Maynard and Pettis may have something in common after all. Neither thinks the other totally deserves their current standing in the weight class.

Although Pettis didn’t say that explicitly, his scorecard from UFC 125 didn’t indicate a draw. He saw a victor.

“I thought Edgar won. I knew a draw was a possibility,” Pettis said. “The first round, Gray Maynard definitely got 10-8, 10-7, whatever you want to give to him. But I thought Edgar did enough the rest of the fight to win.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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