Sergio “The Phenom” Pettis plans to stay at 135 pounds. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Few prospects have entered the Ultimate Fighting Championship with as much fanfare as Sergio Pettis, who has thrown the hype machine into overdrive with his combination of blue-chip bloodlines and world-class talent.
Pettis, the 20-year-old younger brother of reigning UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, will put his unbeaten record on the line when he meets “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 quarterfinalist Alex Caceres in a preliminary bantamweight battle at UFC on Fox 10 on Saturday at the United Center in Chicago. Though some have called for “The Phenom” to return to the flyweight division, Pettis believes he has found a home at 135 pounds.
“My weight maintains [at] about 155, so I cut 20 pounds for the 35 division,” he told Sherdog.com in a pre-fight interview. “That would have been 30 pounds for the 25 division, and that’s just horrible for my body at a young age.”
Pettis made his promotional debut at UFC 167 in November, when he took a unanimous decision from Will Campuzano at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. A protégé of four-time world kickboxing champion Duke Roufus, he had issues defending Campuzano’s takedowns but remained active on his back and outstruck him in the significant strike and total strike departments.
“I might have looked relaxed, but I was really nervous for that fight,” Pettis said. “I went out there and my game plan wasn’t clicking right away. I was a little flat-footed in the first round, but I stayed composed. As a martial artist, I try to do that. Having my brother and seeing him fight in the cage and cornering him helped out a lot.”
Caceres figures to engage the Milwaukee native on the feet, as “Bruce Leeroy” has recorded only one takedown in UFC competition. Caceres will have a four-inch height and four-inch reach advantage.
“I’m going to stay on the outside and use my kicks to beat his reach,” Pettis said. “He’s long, but I don’t think he uses it correctly. He comes forward with his reach, so I feel like I can counter him. I feel like I’m going to outstrike him the whole fight, honestly.”
Emboldened by his most significant victory to date, Stipe Miocic intends on becoming a major player in the heavyweight division.
The once-beaten Miocic will lock horns with onetime title contender Gabriel Gonzaga in the UFC on Fox 10 co-main event, as he looks to build on a resume that now includes four wins inside the Octagon. The 31-year-old Strong Style Fight Team representative last appeared at UFC 161 in July, when he captured a unanimous decision over former International Fight League champion and “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 winner Roy Nelson.
Gonzaga poses similar dangers. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt blessed with crushing knockout power, “Napao” needed less than two combined minutes to dispatch his last two opponents. He felled Dave Herman in 17 seconds at UFC 162 and Shawn Jordan in 93 seconds at UFC 166. Gonzaga, 34, has secured all 16 of his victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
“Gabriel is a super tough guy and a dangerous opponent,” Miocic said in his pre-fight interview with UFC.com. “I love the matchup, and I’m very excited for the fight.”
This & That
Home to the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, the United Center opened in August 1994 at a cost of $175 million ... American Kickboxing Academy representative Josh Thomson is one of only three men -- Clay Guida and Gilbert Melendez are the others -- to have held the Strikeforce lightweight title ... Five of former Jungle Fight champion Adriano Martins’ six career defeats have come by decision. Only Ronys Torres has finished him ... Eddie Wineland became World Extreme Cagefighting’s inaugural bantamweight champion when he knocked out Antonio Banuelos at WEC 20 on May 5, 2006 ... “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” Season 1 semifinalist Hugo Viana lists Swami Vivekananda as one of his heroes ... Darren Elkins was the first man ever to beat former Bellator MMA featherweight champion Pat Curran, earning a decision over “Paddy Mike” under the Corral’s Combat Classic banner a little more than five years ago ... “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 alum Daron Cruickshank graduated from Olivet College with a Bachelor’s degree in fitness management ... All 18 of Ukrainian heavyweight Nikita Krylov’s professional bouts -- 15 wins and three losses -- have ended inside the distance, 17 of them in the first round ... When Roufusport prospect Mike Rhodes was born on Dec. 4, 1989, the top five movies at the domestic box office were “Christmas Vacation,” “Back to the Future II,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Harlem Nights” and “The Little Mermaid” ... MMA Lab export Yaotzin Meza has recorded 20 wins in 25 appearances since starting his MMA career with three consecutive defeats ... UFC on Fox 10 will be the 260th event staged in Ultimate Fighting Championship history.