The Anthony Pettis vs. Benson Henderson trilogy is set, however this time the former UFC champions will collide under Karate Combat rules.
Promotion officials confirmed to MMA Fighting that Pettis and Henderson have verbally agreed to headline Karate Combat 43 in a 170-pound match on Dec. 15 at the Expo at World Trade Market in Las Vegas.
Pettis, who defeated Henderson twice over the course of his 25-14 career in MMA, is a black belt in taekwondo. The former UFC star went 1-4 under the PFL banner but won a majority decision over Roy Jones Jr. in a boxing match this past April. “Showtime” scored wins over the likes of Charles Oliveira, Donald Cerrone, Michael Chiesa, and Stephen Thompson during his UFC stint.
Henderson, an ex-UFC and WEC lightweight champion and fellow black belt in taekwondo, won 30 of 42 MMA bouts with key victories over the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Nate Diaz, Frankie Edgar, and Cerrone in the UFC. The three-time Bellator title contender retired from MMA after challenging Bellator lightweight champion Usman Nurmagomedov in his most recent appearance.
“I am excited to announce my next endeavor with the Karate Combat family,” Pettis said. “I am returning to my traditional martial arts roots for this one. I am the most complete and exciting striker in martial arts and I will show the world where my expertise in MMA comes from. I want to help grow this sport and I can’t wait to put on a show for this organization. It’s Showtime!”
The 170-pound match will have a duration of three rounds. Karate Combat rules allow an extra round in case the match ends in a split decision or draw.
Karate Combat officials revealed to MMA Fighting that the company is “in talks” with former UFC champions Jose Aldo, Luke Rockhold, and Lyoto Machida for potential matches in the pit, as well as Michael Page and Darren Till. Karate Combat 43 will also include Lyoto’s brother Chinzo Machida taking on Shannon Hudson.
Asim Zaidi, the new president of Karate Combat, said, “I wanted to start off by gifting the combat sports community with an epic fight featuring two former UFC champions free on YouTube.”