Dear UFC | Is there still time for Anthony Pettis?

July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Anthony Pettis (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Jim Miller (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Is the Sage Northcutt push officially over?

It was only two years ago that Sage Northcutt made his UFC debut at the age of 19. One of the youngest fighters on the promotion’s roster, Northcutt became somewhat of an instant sensation with a blistering TKO win over Francisco Trevino. The sky, it seemed, was the limit from there. Northcutt began to receive far more publicity than the average 6-0 fighter generally does. He also started getting paid far more than a good amount of the company’s newcomers, taking home $80,000 ($40,000 show + $40,000 win) in just his second UFC fight inside the Octagon.

Northcutt was featured on the main card during that fight, making his way onto a big FOX main card in UFC fight No. 3.

That’s when the game finally caught up to Northcutt. Facing an alternate opponent in Bryan Barberena, the young fighter was soundly defeated via submission for his first career loss. He would bounce back with a narrow victory over Enrique Marin before suffering another defeat against Mickey Gall on another big FOX card last December.

We haven’t seen Northcutt since, but it seems a lot has changed since then. Having fought on the main card in three of his last four fights (that lone preliminary outing being on the stacked card that was UFC 200), Northcutt makes his return in the second preliminary bout to be televised on FOX Sports 1.

With six bouts booked for the main card, is the fact that Northcutt’s not on there a sign of where he stands with the UFC?

How soon will you start testing Tatiana Suarez if she wins Saturday?

It’s been well over a year since we last saw Tatiana Suarez, the winner of the 23rd season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” A season centered on the growth of the UFC’s women’s 115-pound division, Suarez was the best of a group of fairly disappointing fighters. While Suarez is 4-0 in pro MMA, that season’s runner-up, Amanda Bobby Cooper, is 2-3.

That’s been the biggest win of Suarez’s career thus far, topping Cooper in the finale with a first-round submission.

The 26-year-old fighter comes back for the first time in 16 months to face fellow undefeated fighter Viviane Pereira. While unbeaten, Pereira is not featured on the UFC’s top 15 rankings, sitting just a few notches below the women who are recognized as the elite of the class.

With a win over Pereira (which is no guarantee, mind you), Suarez moves to 5-0. She’s still fairly new to the game, but with how desperate the division is for new contenders, how soon would the UFC be looking to give Suarez a bigger challenge by booking her with one of the ladies of the top 15?

Does Anthony Pettis still have time to become a star?

A former UFC lightweight champion, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis has endured one of the more stunning downfalls in recent memory. The first UFC fighter to grace the cover of the famed Wheaties cereal box, Pettis looked to be well on his way toward stardom beyond the Octagon, breaking through as a true superstar.

But then he lost. And then he lost again. And then once more.

After storming his way to the championship in the summer of 2013, Pettis went on to defend his title just once one-and-a-half years later, before relinquishing the crown to Rafael dos Anjos in March 2015. That was followed by two straight defeats, subsequently leading to his debut at 145 pounds. Pettis enjoyed some success at featherweight but only lasted two fights before declaring a return to 155 pounds earlier this year. He got off to the right foot with a win over Jim Miller but now takes a sizable step up in competition by facing Dustin Poirier.

As important as the matchup is how high Pettis is being billed on the fight card, headlining a UFC event for the second time since last December. It was clear from Pettis’ last headliner that he’s no longer the star he once was (having sold a meager 150,000 buys for his interim title fight against Max Holloway). But it’s also clear the UFC is still comfortable giving the striking savant the reins to an event.

But after going 2-4 since last defending his title in December 2014, is there still time for Pettis to break through and become the superstar he was seemingly destined to be?

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