MMA

Anthony Pettis explains PFL signing, relishes ‘target on my back’

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Anthony Pettis had multiple reasons for joining the PFL upon the completion of his UFC contract.

Pettis (24-10), a former UFC and WEC lightweight champion, fought out the final bout on his contract at UFC Fight Night 183 in December, earning a unanimous decision win over Alex Morono.

Not long after the fight, Pettis announced he was not going to re-sign with UFC, and would instead test free agency. Just hours after that, it was revealed he had put pen to paper on a new deal with PFL.

Pettis’ primary motivations for joining the organization was two-fold, he said. He didn’t want to go to Bellator because he would be putting his younger brother Sergio Pettis back in his shadow, and he’s highly intriguing by the season-based format of PFL, and how he can end the year with a lightweight belt from a third fight promotion.

“There’s a couple reasons behind the PFL deal,” Pettis told MMA Junkie. “My little brother at Bellator, seeing him go over there, I like that he has his own home. I feel like he kind of had an identity by me (in the UFC). He was Anthony Pettis’ little brother and he was fighting these tough fights and these guys were coming at him hard. Now he’s in Bellator and he’s one fight away from becoming a world champion. I’m really happy where he’s at.

“The PFL deal and their format is kind of what drew me toward making that signature happen fast. I thought their offering was very fair and I guarantee four fights next year – I’ve got to earn that last one – but I have four fights on the schedule for 2021 and it’s a season. The format was huge or me. Being able to go in there and know when my fights are. In my previous career in the UFC, I had to take a lot of last-minute fights. I was fighting on four weeks’ notice, three weeks’ notice and cutting crazy weight. Now, this year, I know what my fights are, I know what weight I have to be at. So a little more structure for me.”

After 20 fights in the UFC, Pettis had seen and done it all inside the octagon. He fought everything from champions to surging contenders, picked up finishes in three weight classes and provided some unforgettable highlights.

The idea of putting a fresh coat of paint on his career was a major attraction for “Showtime.” He likes the concept of starting new and having to earn his keep, and given the fact he instantly became the most high-profile name in the division upon signing, he said he relishes that everyone is going to be coming for his head.

“I’ve got to start at a new job (and prove myself),” Pettis said. “Everything I’ve done in my past, we all know in the fight world, you’re only as good as your last fight. Going into a new organization and having that target on my back. I know these guys are looking at me like – when I was fighting in the UFC, I fought the best version of every fighter. When they heard my name they were like, ‘Oh, I’m fighting Anthony Pettis.’ They were the best version of themselves, so they know what a fight against me does for them. I think the same thing for the PFL. I’ve got a target on my back. I’ve already seen it. When I announce the signing a lot of their fighter were like, ‘I look forward to meeting you in the octagon.’ I’m excited about a new journey, a whole new path of my career and a new chapter.”

Pettis’ departure from the UFC might give some fans the impression that his career is winding down. At 33, though, Pettis said that’s absolutely not the case. He doesn’t know exactly what the future will look like with PFL – or how many seasons he’ll be there for – but Pettis knows he’s got a lot of gas in the tank.

“I think it’s just another chapter in my career,” Pettis said. “I don’t feel really close to retirement age, I don’t feel like my body is giving up on me or my mindset, if anything it’s getting stronger. Dealing with he sports physiologist has opened up my mind to that sides of sports training. I’m excited to keep continuing that journey.”

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