UFC Fight Night 71 is set to mark the return of not one, but two former UFC champions.
The first? Ex-UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. He takes on T.J. Dillashaw in the main event on Jan. 18 in Boston.
The second? Anthony “Showtime” Pettis—the promotion’s former lightweight king.
Recovering from elbow surgery that forced him out of the cage for a majority of 2015, Pettis starts his journey back to the title against former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.
Pettis will be about 10 months removed from his most recent loss—a five-round drubbing at the hands of then-challenger, now-champion Rafael dos Anjos. With dominant victories over top fighters Benson Henderson, Gilbert Melendez and Donald Cerrone, few believed Pettis would receive the sort of beating he got from dos Anjos last March.
Long considered one of the best 155-pound fighters competing outside of the famed Octagon, Alvarez dropped his promotional debut in 2014 against “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 178. He went on to defeat longtime rival Melendez in a split decision in the UFC’s second outing in Mexico City this June.
Pettis and Alvarez—officially ranked first and fourth in the lightweight division, respectively—will throw their names into the ever-crowded title picture with a victory in January.