Just a few short years ago Anthony Pettis was hanging up the gloves and ready to walk away from martial arts forever.
As chronicled on the popular MTV show “World of Jenks,” Pettis was in an admittedly tough spot following the death of his father. He was ready to call it quits doing martial arts after sharing that with his dad his whole life.
Pettis decided instead of leaving martial arts behind, he would honor his father and remember the times they had together by continuing to pursue the career. That’s when he met coach Duke Roufus in Milwaukee. Now he stands as the last-ever WEC lightweight champion and the man who will challenge either Frankie Edgar or Gray Maynard for the UFC title in 2011.
“It’s a dream come true. My dad was with me all throughout my martial arts career. When he died I stopped doing martial arts for a while, and I found MMA and Duke Roufus, Pat Barry, these guys brought me in, they’re like a family to me. It’s just something I carry with me every fight, my dad gave me my competitive edge,” Pettis said after his victory.
“I feel close to him doing this, and getting this belt is just icing on the cake for me. I can’t wait to go back to his grave and show him the belt.”
For being only 23 years old, Pettis has gone through more than many people twice his age, but now he sits on top of the world for a night, and likely forever through highlights of his fifth-round, wall-walking kick that has the MMA world buzzing.
Opponent Ben Henderson described the kick as something he saw out of the video game “Mortal Kombat.” Pettis ran and jumped off the cage and performed a move most would have thought only possible in the movies. He landed it and may have sealed his victory with the acrobatic move that will forever be known as the ‘Showtime’ kick.
The craziest part about the kick is that Pettis says it’s something he practices with coach Duke Roufus, and when the moment presented itself in the fifth round, he only had one thought running through his head.
Go for it.
“I kept thinking I’ve got to do something to land. He’s checking all my low kicks, I couldn’t get off, he kept stopping me with one or two punches. I’ve got to do something out (of) the box, and see what happens, and luckily for me it landed,” Pettis commented.
Everybody in attendance and those watching at home saw the amazing kick, as did UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and his next challenger, Gray Maynard, who will square off on New Year’s Day. The winner will face Pettis later in 2011.
Pettis says his focus has solely been on Ben Henderson for the past few months, and he hasn’t even thought about Edgar or Maynard yet, but it’s something he will start doing very soon.
“I’m going to go back home Monday and we’ll figure out both styles and whoever wins the fight, I’m going to have to fight either one of them, I think I’ll fight both of them eventually,” said Pettis.
Whoever it ends up being, it’s a guarantee that Anthony Pettis is on their radar now, and the last-ever WEC champion is ready to let the UFC lightweights know exactly who he is.
“I want to be the best in the world,” Pettis proclaimed. “That’s the place to do it at.”