What happens next in the career of newly crowned Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champ Anthony Pettis remains very much up in the air.
But there never was a doubt about his immediate plans after submitting Benson Henderson in the first round of the main event of UFC 164 on Saturday in his hometown of Milwaukee.
Pettis, 26, immediately took his belt to his father’s gravesite.
The champion soon posted a picture on Instagram of the belt placed on the headstone of his father, Eugene, who was murdered by a would-be intruder while at a friend’s house in 2003.
“No matter the circumstances, u can make a positive from any situation!!! Love u pops!,” Pettis posted with the photo, which was posted in the early-morning hours on Sunday.
It was a touching moment that provided a brief respite from the post-fight debate of what happens next for Pettis.
Immediately after the win, he called out featherweight champion Jose Aldo for a champion vs. champion fight. The two were supposed to fight Aug. 3 for Aldo’s belt before Pettis pulled out because of injury.
A matchup between the champions would be an entertaining concept and fight, but it does tie up two divisions for the time being.
Also at UFC 164, Chad Mendes firmly established himself on a crowded list of featherweight contenders with his fourth straight knockout when he stopped Clay Guida. T.J. Grant is the top lightweight contender and was scheduled to fight Henderson on Saturday before he pulled out with an undisclosed injury, opening the door for Pettis.
Grant and Mendes, or perhaps Ricardo Lamas, have earned shots against Pettis and Aldo, respectively.
They may all have to wait for their opportunities, however.
■ MIR FRUSTRATED — Las Vegan Frank Mir suffered his third straight loss when he was knocked down by a big knee from heavyweight Josh Barnett in the first round Saturday.
Referee Rob Hinds immediately stopped the fight, but not everyone agreed with the decision. Mir was understandably upset, but so were Barnett and UFC president Dana White.
“I actually do feel that it was an early stoppage,” Barnett said at the post-fight news conference. “I would always prefer to get the clean finish.”
White was stronger in his criticism, calling it “(expletive) ridiculous.”
Mir, a former champion, said he never lost his faculties.
“I took the knee, and I remember going, ‘(Expletive), I’m in a bad position.’ That’s why I dropped my other knee out from underneath me so that could fall to the ground and make sure I didn’t take a second one. I didn’t belly out, I didn’t flatten out, and I actually tried to re-dig my under-hook so that I could get a single. And I actually looked at the referee stopping it,” Mir said. “And then at first I thought, ‘Maybe I was out? Did I take a bunch of shots that I didn’t see?’ And then after watching it, I was conscious the whole time. Even when I stood up, I wasn’t wobbled, I was completely coherent. You’ve got to let us fight. I didn’t sign up for a tennis match. It’s nothing against Josh, he’s a great fighter and he did what he had to do.
“I think the fans got robbed. I got screwed over.”
■ BUSY WEEK — One of the busiest weeks in UFC history continues with another live card Wednesday on Fox Sports 1, followed by the debut of Season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
UFC Fight Night 28in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, will mark the organization’s third event in an eight-day span.
The card features two fights with serious title implications. Light heavyweight contender Glover Teixeira risks his 19-fight winning streak (four of them in the UFC) against Ryan Bader, and top flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez takes on Jussier Formiga.
The main card begins at 5 p.m. The preliminary card, also airing on Fox Sports 1 (Cable 329), begins at 3.
The new season of the organization’s reality show, featuring coaches Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, debuts after the live card.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.