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Anthony Pettis gets no promised title shot despite memorable TKO at UFC on Fox 6

Flashy strikes fuel Pettis past Donald Cerrone at United Center

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Sam Morris

Anthony Pettis talks to the media in this file photo.

UFC on Fox 6

Demetrious Johnson, left, fights John Dodson during UFC  flyweight championship at the United Center in Chicago, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. Launch slideshow »

If Anthony Pettis was in another line of work, his boss might be suspicious of how quickly he completes his tasks.

In the UFC, Pettis’ penchant for fast finishes is more than desired. It’s handsomely rewarded. Pettis’ TKO victory over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC on Fox 6 Saturday marked the second straight fight in which he finished in less than three minutes to receive a Knockout of the Night bonus check.

“I thought it was going to be more of a war,” Pettis admitted afterwards. “He’s a tough guy. He’s never been finished like that.”

Pettis received a nice surprise in the form of an astronomical pay-to-labor ratio a few hours before his 26th birthday. Now he wants the ultimate gift: The return of a lightweight title shot that he earned twice before but never got to use.

Although UFC President Dana White did say Pettis’ performance should put him “next” for the winner of the fight between Benson Henderson and Gilbert Melendez, he wouldn’t fully confirm the plans.

“Let’s see how this plays out,” White said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

But what everyone does know is that Pettis looks like the best UFC lightweight without a championship belt on his mantel — and maybe the best including the one with the hardware. Pettis already owns a victory over current champion Henderson, a unanimous-decision from the final WEC event.

But this victory over Cerrone arguably surpasses the Henderson win. In 29 kickboxing matches and 24 mixed martial arts fights, an opponent had never knocked out Cerrone.

Pettis immediately made Cerrone uncomfortable on the feet with pressure and creative combinations. “Showtime” noticed “Cowboy” was holding his hands high midway through the first round, so he unleashed a rapid kick to the liver.

Cerrone collapsed to the ground, and the referee was pulling Pettis off only 2 minutes and 35 seconds after the fight began.

“If you get hit in the right place, there’s nothing you can do about it,” Pettis said. “I just hit him with a good body kick and he couldn’t recover.”

Pettis’ strike that finished Cerrone for the first time in his career wasn’t even the one that was the most talked about after the fight. Pettis, who famously landed the “Showtime kick” where he ran off of the wall, against Henderson, showed off a variation of that against Cerrone before the finish.

With Cerrone backed against the cage, Pettis ran up the fence and fired a knee into his opponent’s chin. The crowd awed at the move that came about 10 seconds before the stoppage.

“I don’t think it hurt him badly, but it affected him,” Pettis said. “I was attacking from all angles. That was the game plan: Attack from all angles and don’t give him a chance to get off. He’s a dangerous guy. I just had to impose my will and I was happy I had a great performance.”

Pettis had a similar standout performance against Joe Lauzon at UFC 144 last year. Pettis knocked out Lauzon with a head kick at 1:55 of the first round, prompting White to announce he would get a title shot after the event.

When the UFC decided to go with a rematch between Henderson and Frankie Edgar, Pettis was left disappointed for a second time. He was also poised to challenge for the belt two years ago when he merged into the UFC as the WEC champion, but a rematch between Edgar and Gray Maynard knocked Pettis off course.

After beating Cerrone, Pettis yelled White’s name in the octagon and asked ‘What do I need to do for a title shot?’ Unfortunately for Pettis, he never received a clear answer.

But he formulated his own plan anyway.

“If it’s a guaranteed title shot, I’m waiting,” Pettis said. “That’s what my goals are. That was my goal this year.”

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

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