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Johnny Case’s ideal 2021: Fight Anthony Pettis for PFL title on New Year’s Eve

While the pandemic has been difficult on everyone in the fight game, it hit fighters on the PFL roster in a certain way.

Other promotions were free to make up for lost time once they got back up and running. But the PFL’s format of regular-season fights followed by playoffs can’t be replicated in a truncated form. That meant a year on the sidelines for most of the roster.

It was doubly frustrating for veteran lightweight Johnny Case, who was coming off a run in which he fought five times in 14 months when the plug was pulled.

So the news of the PFL’s impending 2021 season launch has Case (27-7-1) counting down the days.

“Man, I am so pumped, you know what I mean?” Case recently told MMA Junkie. “This year off has been so tough for so many reasons: One, there’s no money coming in. But two, I lost my opportunity to fight for another world title (last) year. And now that the 2021 season has been announced, I’ve seen the roster – it’s just, nothing but awesome matchups and potential killers. So I’m just looking forward to just seeing what happens.”

Adding to the excitement is the fact the PFL’s lightweight class is pretty impressive, with a roster that includes two-time champ Natan Schulte, Olivier Aubin-Mercier and the company’s splashiest signing, former UFC and WEC titleholder Anthony Pettis.

“The roster is stacked as far as lightweights go,” Case said. “Natan, the back-to-back champion – obviously that would be a fight that I would like to get back over that draw. Pettis, what a legend of the sport. I’ve been watching Pettis since all the way back in the WEC. What an honor it would be to fight him. To beat a legend like him would be awesome.

“You know, Aubin-Mercier – I’ve seen him in the UFC. He’s tough. I thought we’d match up a couple times. There’s tough fights, all these guys. Even the guys I’ve never heard of, the Russian and European guys – you know, they’ve all got good records and they fought tough people. I’m not looking past anybody and I’m looking forward to these matchups.”

As of now, Case has the first of his two regular-season fight dates set – April 23 in Las Vegas – but not yet his first opponent.

He does, however, have some fights he hopes to get this season. Case previously fought once in the PFL, going to a majority draw with Schulte in 2018. He hopes to have a chance to run that one back, but he also has an ideal way he’d like to finish the season: a New Year’s Eve date with Pettis with a championship and $1 million at stake.

“Ideally, I’d like to fight Pettis on New Year’s Eve for that title,” he said. “That’s the goal, and I’ll take out whoever I’ve got to take out to get to that road.”

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