UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis has landed two big sponsorship deals with Reebok and Wheaties, despite a 16 month layoff.
Pettis has been laid up since he beat Benson Henderson for the title last August at UFC 164 and won't fight again until December this year, marking 16-months between fights.
That hasn't stopped Reebok and Wheaties from investing in the 27-year-old American and he'll become the first MMA fighter to appear on the cover of the Wheaties box, following in the footsteps of legends like Muhammed Ali and Michael Jordan.
He's the second fighter to be sponsored by Reebok, with the apparel company also sponsoring UFC Welterweight champ, Johny Hendricks.
Speaking about the sponsorship, Pettis said that he was honoured to get them especially, the Wheaties deal.
"I'm sure they had a lot of guys they could've chose from and they wanted to choose me. For me, it's an amazing opportunity.
"I definitely worked hard to be where I'm at right now and it's cool to see it all unfold, see the brands that are recognizing mixed martial arts like that.
"There's a couple different sports that are a part of this and they're trying to somehow get the fans involved in voting for who they want to see on a Wheaties box, and they chose mixed martial arts as one of the sports. It just shows you how big the sport is getting. I mean, Jordan was on a Wheaties box, Muhammad Ali."
Pettis will next fight Gilbert Melendez at the end of the year, in part due to Pettis' injury and also because the UFC has signed them up to host The Ultimate Fighter 20.
The move has frustrated not only fans but also other fighters in the division, especially Benson Henderson, who may fight four times since he and Pettis clashed.
Henderson is on a two fight win streak, having beaten Josh Thomson and Rustam Khabilov and is set to face Rafael dos Anjos on August 23rd, in a match he's the hot favourite for. The right result could see him fight on the same card as Pettis-Melendez.
He said recently that he'll continue to lead the division while Pettis is out and to give the top fighters to him. Whether or not Pettis can stay healthy, may lead to an interim title being crowned but for now, he's just thinking about that sponsorship money.
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