Anthony Pettis Views Professional Fighters League Signing as Roadmap to Build on Legacy

Jan 7, 2021

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“Showtime” hopes to end the year as the 2021 Professional Fighters League champion and add another belt to his collection.

For many fans, Anthony Pettis’ announcement that he was leaving the Ultimate Fighting Championship came as a shock. In his UFC tenure, Pettis (24-10) won the lightweight championship, fought in three different weight classes, faced most of the big names in each of those divisions and won countless post-fight performance bonuses. While talking with Sherdog, he revealed that the past year was at the heart of his decision to leave the UFC.

“The biggest thing probably was 2020,” Pettis said. “Everything that happened in 2020 with the coronavirus, my career, my personal life. I think it thought us to slow down and enjoy life a little bit. I’ve been so wrapped up in the UFC in trying to get the next big fight, the next big name. I took a step back and said, ‘Let me decide what’s best for me, the future of my career.’ It’s scary fighting for free agency. You got to go out there, and you got to perform. The UFC did offer me a fight contract before and after Cerrone, and before Morono. I wasn’t on the chopping block, I wasn’t going to get cut, but I was like, ‘What’s next for my career?’ When I sat down and thought about it, it’s legacy. I want to have a great legacy and to be remembered when this is all settled.”

In his last UFC appearance, “Showtime” upended Alex Morono in their UFC Fight Night 183 encounter. The performance followed a unanimous decision victory over Donald Cerrone in their rematch at UFC 249.

“Knowing that it was going to be my last fight in the UFC, I just went back and thought about all the camps, all the fights, all the craziness that comes around it,” he said. “I had a great time. I wouldn’t change anything about my career. I was making decisions based on the emotions I had at that time. I wanted to fight the best in the world and be the best in the world. I wanted to fight for a two-division world championship. I was one of the first guys to call somebody out [for that]. I won the belt, and I tried to call out Jose Aldo at 145. I was in one of the first talks in a two-division champion ever. That never happened to me, but I went down to 145 and challenged for that belt. I went up to 170 and got a win over “Wonderboy,” Morono, Cerrone, again. I’ve done so much in the UFC, I was like, ‘I need a fresh start, I need something new, something different.’”

In 2021, Pettis will compete in the PFL’s 155-pound division. He was motivated to sign with the league as the best way to cement his mixed martial arts legacy.

“There is a bunch of different organizations out there, but I think it comes down to the politics again,” Pettis added. “You go over to Bellator [MMA], to One [Championship], you have to earn your way to becoming the champion. Not that I didn’t want to do that, but I’d be putting myself in the same format I was in the UFC, only in a new organization. The PFL has a different outlook on it. It’s a Season. I know I have four fights next year, and when the fights are, I don’t have to take any short notice fights. I won’t be put in positions where I got to make a real decision of cutting 20 pounds in two weeks or three weeks. I’m prepared for what’s to come. Like I said, there is a belt and a great prize at the end of this. It was very enticing.”

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