Anthony "Showtime" Pettis has a lot of celebrating to do on his 26th birthday.
That's a nice chunk of change that should be enough to cover even the most lavish bar tab.
Pettis vs. Benson Henderson II would produce epic ticket sales for whatever event it is announced. After all, Pettis was the last man to defeat Henderson, and "Bendo" has gone 6-0 inside the Octagon ever since.
Can Pettis beat Henderson again without hitting the infamous "Showtime Kick" once more? That seems to be the million-dollar question regarding the UFC's lightweight division.
However, there is one perspective many fans and analysts aren't considering: Pettis being assured a title shot when Henderson already has a fight booked may be the best way to derail this rematch from happening.
How could that be possible?
First off, Henderson has been salivating to get another crack at Pettis ever since that fateful night at WEC 53 in Dec. 2010. It's hard to blame him for that.
The hulking lightweight was nearly in tears at the post-fight conference after the loss, probably because he knew he could have won if he hadn't let Pettis springboard off the cage and Matrix kick him in the face.
He also had to realize the kick would live in infamy as one of Zuffa, LLC's top fight highlights for the rest of eternity. To say Henderson was disappointed is a gross understatement.
Case in point: It's quite feasible that Henderson will be so focused on getting his sweet revenge on Pettis that he will lose to Gilbert Melendez at UFC on Fox 7 in April.
We can all scream at the top of our lungs that "El Nino" deserved to lose his rubber match against Josh Thompson this past May or even argue that he's a huge wuss for backing out of two Strikeforce title fights with Pat Healy.
However, the bottom line is that Melendez beat Thompson via split decision and cited a lingering shoulder injury for never fighting Healy (even if it was bogus or overexaggerated).
More importantly, Melendez is pretty good in his own right. He is extremely well-rounded with vicious striking and ground-and-pound, solid takedowns and expert submission defense.
It's easy to write off the California native for two reasons.
First, he's never fought in the UFC.
Second, he trains at Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
Nate Diaz, a training partner of Melendez, was absolutely embarrassed by Henderson at UFC on Fox 5 in December. That makes it easy to jump to the conclusion the same thing is going to happen to Melendez.
However, styles make fights, and Melendez doesn't fight much like Nate Diaz. Melendez has far better takedown defense and is a lot more versatile with his striking.
Both Cesar Gracie fighters love to scrap and never quit, but that's basically where the similarities end.
Melendez will beat Henderson at UFC on Fox 7 this spring because the champ will look past the challenger, making Henderson vs. Pettis II one of the greatest fights that never was.
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