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Anthony Pettis 'would love' to fight Nate Diaz next

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Anthony Pettis still has some things to sort out before heading back into the Octagon, mainly a broken right orbital bone. But when he does return, he sure wouldn't mind seeing Nate Diaz across from him.

"I haven't thought about who I want to fight next," Pettis told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I can't even say when I can fight next. But I would love to fight Nate Diaz. That's a fight I've been waiting for, for a long time. If that's next, I'm for sure down with that. I just gotta figure out when I'm able to fight again or when I can start even looking at dates to fight again."

Pettis and Diaz have a deep history. Their respective camps had an altercation at a nightclub in Las Vegas in 2013. And Diaz has sniped at Pettis often on social media, most recently last week when he poked fun at Pettis allegedly being injury prone.

Pettis (18-3) said multiple times during his title reign that he would like to fight Diaz, but it didn't necessarily make sense because Diaz was not in title contention. Now that Pettis doesn't have the belt anymore, well, it is likely very much on the table.

At UFC 185 on March 15 in Dallas, Pettis fell lost the lightweight title to Rafael dos Anjos by unanimous decision. Dos Anjos dominated all five rounds and Pettis admitted it was the first time he truly got beat up. He walked out of American Airlines Center with seven stitches and a broken orbital.

There is no timetable currently for his return, but Pettis does want to get back in there as soon as he can. Before the fight, he said he planned on being busy in 2015 and he doesn't want that to change.

"There's a lot of guys I gotta fight," Pettis said. "Now that I suffered this loss, I'm sure everybody thinks they want their shot at me, they want to take advantage of this. But it's my job to get back out there and get back to the top. I think a couple more wins and I'll be right back to where I was at."

Pettis had won five in a row before falling to dos Anjos. He won the title from Benson Henderson in August 2013 and defended it back in December against Gilbert Melendez, Diaz's teammate. Diaz (17-10) is also coming off a loss to dos Anjos at UFC on FOX 13 in December. Before that, he knocked out Gray Maynard in November 2013 and took some time off from the sport.

Pettis knows he'll have to work his way back up the ladder to get another shot at the title. The winner of a fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Donald Cerrone at UFC 187 on May 23 in Las Vegas will get dos Anjos for the belt next.

But whoever "Showtime" has to go through, whether it be Diaz or anyone else, he wants a rematch with dos Anjos before another crack at gold.

"I want to clear that before I get a title shot," Pettis said. "That's just more of a personal thing. He's the only guy that ever beat me up in my whole career, my whole life."

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