Donald Cerrone won't be the next challenger to
But the veteran took a major step to be next in line to Pettis' just-announced March 14 defense in Dallas against Rafael dos Anjos by winning a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Myles Jury of San Diego on Saturday night at UFC 182 at MGM Grand.
Ranked No. 4 in the division, the 31-year-old Cerrone (26-6) sealed his win over Jury (15-1) with a kick to the face early in the third round. He then closed the deal by getting Jury down and subjecting him to multiple kicks to the legs.
Cerrone spent most of the first round with his back on the canvas, but still inflicted punishment on
Jury with three serious choke attempts, short punches to the head and more disciplined jujitsu maneuvering.
Also Saturday, sixth-ranked welterweight contender Hector Lombard of Cuba landed enough power punches to slow down banged-up veteran Josh Burkman in his return to the UFC after a six-year absence.
Burkman came out slugging in the first round, but began tiring badly in the second, when he was dropped by a lunging Lombard right and was left to lean back to the cage, hoping for an opening Lombard never gave him en route to a unanimous-decision victory by scores of 30-27 twice and 29-28.
Flyweight Kyoji Horiguchi (15-1) displayed more complete skills in a 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 decision over Louis Gaudinot.
The action preceded the night's main event, light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones' bid for an eighth consecutive successful defense of his belt against unbeaten former Olympian Daniel Cormier (15-0), a former Strikeforce heavyweight champion.
The fight was not completed by press time. See latimes.com/sports for full coverage.
UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta told The Times he's targeting the Jones-Cormier winner to fight the Jan. 24 winner of Alexander Gustafsson-Anthony Johnson in Stockholm.
That bout probably would be in July, Fertitta said.
Gustafsson gave Jones his most difficult fight yet, in 2013, but the champion emerged with a unanimous-decision victory on his way to being ranked by the UFC as its top pound-for-pound fighter.
"When you look at the body of work, he's fought everybody and pretty much dominated everybody," Fertitta said. "Quiet guy, from upstate New York, mostly keeps to himself."
Cormier worked to expose Jones' personality flaws before the bout, labeling the champion a "fake" and "chameleon," but Fertitta said he's understanding of his champion's development.
"Talking about a young guy here, still finding his way. This is part of the journey, part of the ride. He's grown up a lot and I expect him to continue to," Fertitta said.
"When you look at the string of wins he's had against the level of competition he's done it against. 'Rampage' [Jackson], Lyoto Machida, Gustafsson, Rashad Evans — you're talking about legends."