Anthony Pettis Admits He Took Title Run For Granted, Vows Return To Glory

Anthony Pettis Admits He Took Title Run For Granted, Vows Return To Glory

Former WEC and UFC champion Anthony Pettis shares insight on his fall from grace and the battle to return to world champion.

Nov 10, 2017 by Duane Finley
Anthony Pettis Admits He Took Title Run For Granted, Vows Return To Glory

It wasn't all that long ago that Anthony "Showtime" Pettis was sitting on top of the world.

Following a short-notice fight that earned him the UFC lightweight title with a submission win over Benson Henderson in August 2013, Pettis was given a high-profile slot coaching season 20 of "The Ultimate Fighter" that launched the women's strawweight division.

At the conclusion of his coaching stint on the show, Pettis defeated former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez in December 2014 to make the first defense of his title and soon after saw his face on the cover of a box of "Wheaties" cereal as his star continued to rise.

Many believed Pettis was poised to be the next face of the UFC, but then it all came crashing down around him.

Pettis lost his title to Rafael dos Anjos in a lopsided performance at UFC 185 in March 2015 and then went on the toughest streak of his career, losing three out of his next four fights in a row including a brief stint at featherweight. 

Following that abysmal run, Pettis picked himself back off the ground and got back to the basics. Pettis made a return to the division he once championed and scored a win over Jim Miller this July.

Now, as Pettis prepares for his main event fight against Dustin Poirier at UFC Fight Night 120 in Norfolk, VA, on Saturday, he can look back at his incredible run to become champion and admit where things took a decided turn for the worse.

"After the [Gilbert] Melendez fight, I was on top of the world and I was just kind of taking it all for granted," Pettis told FloCombat in an exclusive interview. "I didn't really sit back and appreciate where I was at in my career and in my life, and then I tried to rush back to a title fight against Eddie Alvarez and Edson Barboza at lightweight and then I made the jump down to 145 [pounds]. A lot of stuff I had to get through to get to this spot. 

"Coming from where I'm at now, I'm hungry, I'm motivated, I'm in shape. My body feels amazing. I'm ready to just go out there and perform."

Pettis knows full well he was en route to superstardom prior to those setbacks, but he also knows surviving a tumultuous couple of years in his career brought him to where he's at right now.

It took those defeats — along with testing the waters with new coaches and training partners — for Pettis to realize that everything he needed to get him ready for another run at the title was found at home in Milwaukee with his head coach Duke Roufus.

"From going from a kid at the mall to being the UFC and WEC world champ going on like two years, a lot happened in that time. But I feel I had to go through that to get to where I'm at now," Pettis said. "Now I know how to deal with it, how to stay on top and how to balance my time. You've got a hungry list of guys out there coming for you when you're champion so you have to stay focused and stay on track.

"I was bouncing around trying to find new sparring partners and just trying to find new things to grow as a fighter, but we just got back to the basics. We got back to what made me go on that run through the WEC and UFC. The details and the ability to add to that. We want to add to my performance last time."

While Pettis has built his career on jaw-dropping finishes in the fashion he dusted Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone and Joe Lauzon, he's the first to confess that he played it safe in his last fight against Miller.

For that matchup, Pettis just wanted to get a win after being finished for the first time in his career in a featherweight title fight against Max Holloway. With the confidence gained from that win, however, Pettis is ready to get back to highlight-reel finishes again and it starts with Poirier this weekend. 

"The Jim Miller fight, I played it safe. I played it very safe to get the win. I got the decision win and now it's time to get better than that. Same technique, same game plan but with more risk taking ability," Pettis said. "I want a finish and I want to be impressive out there. 

"This time is going to be different. I learned a lot in my career and I'm still young. I'm 30 years old. I feel like I have a lot of time left in this sport, and I don't want just be a contender. I want to be champion."