He’s had one of the best professional tenures a lighter-weight fighter could ever ask for, but Anthony Pettis’ career was largely in flux as he entered a new division heading into Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 148 main event.
Everything changed in the blink of an eye.
Pettis pulled off yet another amazing win, living up to his classic nickname by rocketing Stephen Thompson’s consciousness into the stratosphere. Bleeding from his nose and mouth and getting pelted by an array of kicks to the legs, body and head, “Showtime” literally backed himself against a wall. He was in peril of possibly being taken out, but in a split second, the Roufusport legend saw and opening and went for it.
Pettis unfurled a magnificent Superman punch by exploding forward with his back nearly against the Octagon’s fencing. His right hand landed cleanly on Thompson’s face, sending him to the canvas. “Wonderboy’s” head bounced off the canvas and Pettis followed him down, crushing two more rights onto his melon, dribbling it like a basketball as referee Herb Dean shoved him off.
“The cue for my hook was when he pulled back his right leg,” Pettis told the media during a post-fight media scrum. “I knew I was going to start catching him with hooks and once he showed it, I went for it. I kept throwing straight punches but once he turned (with his right leg back), I threw the hook. He got me good a couple times, even with his jab, but I just stuck to the gameplan.
“He was catching me with his jab and I knew he had the range on me, so I was trying to eat him up with the low kicks, get him thinking about the low kicks,” he said. “I know I was hurting his back leg which is what set up that right hand. His range with his strikes was very accurate.”
Pettis, a former WEC and UFC champion at lightweight, lost three fights in a row from 2015 to 2016, prompting a brief foray at 145 pounds. The Roufusport product alternated wins and losses in his last six outings while bouncing back and forth between weight classes, and his best days appeared to be behind him as he prepared to make his welterweight debut. Thompson was expected by many to be too big and dangerous for the Milwaukee-based fighter, but like so many times in the past, Pettis proved them wrong. Pettis displayed that he is still a dangerous man and bona fide contender at 170, but he said there is some unfinished business down at lightweight.
“The results show, the weight cut was killing me at 145, 155 now 170, I better be in the top 10 now,” he said. “I felt so good at 170, I’ll be here for a while, but I’m not done at 155, [either]. There’s a couple of names at 170. I want Rafael dos Anjos back, that’s one of the fights I need at 155. If Dana wants to give it to me, the winner of [Edson] Barboza and [Justin] Gaethje, I’m ready.
Pettis also has some opponents in mind at welterweight.
“I won’t fight [Tyron] Woodley or [Ben] Askren because they are my teammates,” he stated. “Another guy I wouldn’t fight at 170 is [Jorge] Masvidal. I mean, he would do it, but that fight doesn’t make sense for me. Conor McGregor just put a tweet out, so that’s a fun fight. If he wants to do it, let’s do it. I think he’s a great fighter and he’s done some amazing things for this sport, but I’m not gonna wait for him.”
Welcome to the club and congratulations.— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) March 24, 2019
Now who fucking wants it? https://t.co/XrNU4VDc3Z
Pettis said he’d prefer to fight McGregor at 170 pounds, unless it’s for a title at lightweight. He was figuratively salivating at the thought of how many opponents are in front of him and has time to figure out who he’ll fight next. “Showtime” did indicate that he wants to fight in July next, regardless of the matchup.