UFC lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (17-2) says he is ready to deliver the performance of his life this Saturday night when he defends his title for the first time against Gilbert Melendez (22-3) in the co-main event at UFC 181 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Pettis won the belt in August 2013 when he defeated Benson Henderson by first round stoppage, but he has had a 16-month injury layoff due to a torn posterior cruciate ligament. Muscleandfitness.com caught up with the 27-year-old on Monday to see how he is feeling ahead of the fight.

“Training camp went amazing man. I am ready to fight. It was a long process, but I am finally here five days away from the fight, and I am set.”

Pettis spoke to M&F three months ago while promoting The Ultimate Fighter 20, on which he and Melendez are coaches. During that interview, Pettis said that the only thing he could not do at the time due to his knee was to check kicks. This week, he said the knee was 100 percent recovered for all facets of his game, and that he and his team worked hard to make sure he had complete confidence in it going into this fight.

“That was the biggest thing that we did (in training camp)—build my confidence in the knee with physical therapy, strength and conditioning and sparring five rounds at a time. This is the first time that I am going into a fight with no injuries,” added Pettis, who is trained by Duke Roufus out of the Roufusport gym in his hometown of Milwaukee.

Melendez, who was the former two-time Strikeforce lightweight champion and WEC lightweight champion before moving to the UFC, cemented his status as number one contender with an all-action win over Diego Sanchez in October 2013.

“I think he is a very tough opponent, and he deserves his spot in the Octagon,” says Pettis.  “He has fought 25 minutes lot of times. He brings a lot of pressure in fights, but that being said, I feel that he has fought no one that has my style. No one can really prepare for what I throw in the Octagon.”

Pettis sets high goals for himselfnot only does he want to deliver a signature performance, he also wants to get the job done in the first round.

“He is a champ in his own right, but this is my time. I am coming off three first-round fight victories, and I don’t plan on this going past the first round. That’s just something for me to hold myself accountable to. Who knows what will happen, but I just want to keep myself accountable, and I want to finish this fight in the first round and get another win.

“I feel that I have to make a statement, but I am not putting any pressure on myself, I feel that my fighting style speaks for itself. I go in there and I finish fights. I am not going to go in there with the mindset that I have to make a statement, they usually just happen for me.”

The other big fight on the card is the rematch between UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler. Hendricks won the first fight by unanimous decision to win the belt vacated by Georges St. Pierre.

Check out the countdown to UFC 181: Anthony Pettis vs Gilbert Melendez:


Here are some “Showtime” highlights that illustrate Anthony Pettis’ dynamic fighting style: