Anthony Pettis Not Ready to Consider Life After MMA: ‘I Don’t Think About an Exit Plan’

It seems like ages ago that Anthony Pettis went viral with his “Showtime Kick” at the final World Extreme Cagefighting event or claimed UFC gold with a submission of Benson Henderson in his hometown of Milwaukee.

However, while Pettis has been a big star for more than a decade now, his passion for mixed martial arts hasn’t waned as he heads into a PFL 5 showdown with Steven Ray on Friday at Overtime Elite Arena in Atlana. In other words, retirement hasn’t really crossed his mind.

“I don’t think about an exit plan. I’m only 35 years old,” Pettis said during a PFL media day. “I did so much early in my career that people just remember me from the beginning of the sport. When this sport became popular and social media just popped up, that’s when I was making my claim to fame. I’m still hungy, I’m still motivated, and I’m still training with some of the best of the world. I know my skill set. I still have a lot more to prove.”

Much of Pettis’ current motivation stems from a disappointing debut campaign in the PFL. “Showtime” was a prominent free-agent signing for the organization but went 0-2 in 2021 to miss the playoffs entirely.

“This season’s all about redemption,” he said. “Last year didn’t go my way. I still love this sport.I think fighting is something that I was born to do. I’m trying to go out there and get this third belt.”

While Pettis has endured his share of ups and downs since his championship heyday, he remains driven to succeed. He admits that the season format of the PFL has required an adjustment.

“I don’t think the motivation’s ever been an issue for me,” Pettis said. “I train hard. I’ve always trained hard. It’s just that the game changes. The guys are getting better. Especially in this format. It’s totally different than anything I was used to … You’ve got to do the bulk of your training early in the season because this really is a season format.”

While Pettis has already clinched a playoff spot at lightweight, he isn’t looking past his matchup with Ray.

“I’m focused. The way last season went makes me have a lot to prove this season,” Pettis said. “Anything can happen. I go out there and make a bad mistake and [then I have to] pull out of the tournament. I know the guy I’m fighting, he needs the points to get in the tournament … I’m trying to take it one fight at a time and just enjoy this process.”



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