Anthony Pettis joins Conor McGregor sweepstakes with KO win

Updated March 25, 2019 - 2:50 pm

Former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis joined an exclusive group with his highlight-reel knockout of Stephen Thompson on the UFC Fight Night 148 card on Saturday night in Nashville, Tennessee.

He also may have secured his entry for the most lucrative sweepstakes in the sport.

Conor McGregor offered a social media post to acknowledge Pettis joining himself and Kenny Florian as the only three fighters in UFC history to win a fight at featherweight, lightweight and welterweight.

“Welcome to the club and congratulations,” McGregor wrote. “Now who (expletive) wants it?”

McGregor is referring to the wide pool of candidates vying for the massive payday and career boost that comes with stepping in the cage with the sport’s most popular star.

Pettis is now apparently on the list.

”Conor McGregor just put a tweet out, so that’s a fun fight,” Pettis said at the post-fight news conference. “Another guy that I love his style. I think that’d be a fun fight. So if he wants to do it, let’s do it. I’m not afraid to fight anybody.”

Pettis said he’s not going to sit around and wait for a decision, though.

“I don’t follow Conor McGregor,” he said. “I think he’s an amazing fighter, I think he’s done some amazing stuff for the sport, but I’m not gonna wait for him. If it’s not him, it’s the next guy in line.”

Pettis was making his debut at 170 pounds and said that was the most logical weight for a potential fight against McGregor.

Barber remains undefeated

Rising star Maycee Barber overcame a difficult first round to score a knockout of JJ Aldrich in a women’s flyweight bout on Saturday night, then faced more questions about the inevitable comparisons to former bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey.

“In a way I guess people could look at it like, ‘Oh, she’s undefeated, she’s got (something) like Ronda did,’ but I’m a completely different person than Ronda and that’s no disrespect to her,” the 20-year-old said. “She’s a phenomenal athlete, phenomenal fighter. She had an amazing career. But I feel like I want to take my career a little bit different.”

Barber said one big difference is how she plans to deal with a setback in the cage if it should happen.

“If I ever do get a loss — which I’m going to continue to fight so that I never get one, but if I ever do, I hope that I can come back a little bit differently than she did,” Barber said. “But we’ll see. I’m hoping to not take that loss.”

Barber said she wants to fight on major cards going forward, targeting the International Fight Week show in Las Vegas in July.

“I feel like I’m going to start making the card big, though,” she added. “So it doesn’t matter we put me on. It’s going to be a big card.”

Moraes-Cejudo targeted

UFC president Dana White said Saturday he has a plan for how to settle the top of the bantamweight division after T.J. Dillashaw relinquished his belt last week in the wake of an adverse result from a drug test.

White said he will book a fight between Marlon Moraes and flyweight champ Henry Cejudo for the belt.

“They both want that fight really bad, seems like a good fight to make with the whole Dillashaw thing now,” White said.

UFC on ESPN 2

The UFC’s second main card on ESPN will take place on Saturday night in Philadelphia.

Justin Gaethje will fight Edson Barboza in the main event of the card at Wells Fargo Center, which will air live at 4 p.m.

More MMA: Follow at CoveringTheCage.com and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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