Khabib Nurmagomedov plans on earning a title shot in 2015. It just won't be against the current champion, in his opinion.
"I think [dos Anjos] smashes [Pettis] in striking and I think he smashes him on the ground," Nurmagomedov told MMAFighting.com earlier this month at the Los Angeles FitExpo, where he was helping run seminars for the Paradise Warrior Retreat program. "This is my opinion. I don't know why, but I think he'll smash him."
Nurmagomedov (22-0) has not fought since beating dos Anjos at UFC on FOX 11 last April due to a knee injury. The Dagestan native dominated dos Anjos for a unanimous decision victory. But Nurmagomedov said that doesn't mean the Brazilian isn't good.
"Dos Anjos is no easy man," Nurmagomedov said. "A lot of people watch and think I beat him easy, but it was not easy. It was no easy fight.
"I beat him, but nobody beat him like me."
Nurmagomedov and Pettis have sniped back and forth on social media and in interviews for awhile now. Many believe Nurmagomedov would be the champion's toughest test and it's only a matter of time before he gets his shot at the belt. Currently, Nurmagomedov is ranked No. 2 among lightweight contenders in the UFC's official rankings behind dos Anjos.
Recently, Pettis told MMAjunkie that Nurmagomedov's trash talk is "annoying" and he possesses only "amateur level striking."
"He only gets by on his wrestling," Pettis said. "He thinks his striking is going to be good enough to survive against me, take me down and grind me out for 25 minutes? He's never done that. He's never fought a main event for 25 minutes.
"Anybody can wrestle for 15 minutes, but it's different when you're fighting for the title. At the same time, his striking is amateur compared to where my wrestling is. My wrestling is on a way higher level than his striking if you want to compare the two."
Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov has said that Pettis doesn't really want to face him and that "I'm no good for his style."
Since the loss to Nurmagomedov, dos Anjos knocked Benson Henderson out in the first round and then dominated Nate Diaz for a unanimous decision victory. With Nurmagomedov still out recovering from a torn ACL, dos Anjos is clearly the next man in line for the title shot.
As for Nurmagomedov, a fight between him and Donald Cerrone is targeted for UFC 187 on March 23 in Las Vegas. Nurmagomedov believes he'll beat Cerrone to earn a title shot. It just won't be against who everyone thinks.
"I think dos Anjos beats Pettis and if I beat Cerrone, dos Anjos and I fight another time," Nurmagomedov said.