by Brian Lopez-Benchimol – MMAWeekly.com
As WEC 50 looms closer and closer, co-headliner Anthony Pettis is chomping at the bit to get in a cage.
The lightweight contender, who meets fellow standout Shane Roller on Wednesday, has been nothing short of impressive since his inception into the WEC. Following a close split decision loss to fellow banger Bart Palaszewski, Pettis has learned his biggest lesson since his start in the professional world of mixed martial arts, nearly three years ago.
“The biggest thing I learned in (the fight with Bart Palaszewski) is don’t let it go to the judges,” said Pettis, who has finished his last two opponents, Danny Castillo with a head kick knockout and a second-round triangle choke over “The Ultimate Fighter” veteran Alex Karalexis. “I’m trying to finish everybody. If I finish them then there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
“Going into this fight, I have the same mindset. I need to finish this guy, and I need to do it impressively to get a title shot.”
Hoping to make it three in a row inside the WEC, Pettis knows that what the fans really need is a new face in there for the title. While Roller has not challenged for the promotion’s lightweight strap just yet, he has faced champ Ben Henderson in April of 2009 in a losing effort, and other top contenders Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone have already tried their luck.
“I’m a new face in there. I just got signed last year, so I made a big splash, real fast in this division,” said the 23-year-old.
While it’s Roller’s wrestling that proves to be the deciding factor in most of his fights, Pettis wants to take the wrestler out of his element, and impose his will on him, wherever it may be.
“For this camp, I really focused on being an all around fighter. Wherever the fight goes, I’m ready to take it. If he takes me down, obviously he’s a really good wrestler, so I mean there’s a good chance he’s going to take me down. I’m not going to stress on not letting him take me down, because I’ll move out of my game,” said Pettis.
“If he takes me down, I’m just going to put him in a bad situation, and look for a submission.
“As long as I’m attacking, he can’t attack me, and he has to try to defend when I’m attacking him. If I’m playing defensive jiu-jitsu, I’m just going to hold him down and stall him out, he’s going to be free to do whatever he wants,” he continued.
“But when I’m attacking, he can’t do that. He’s going to have to defend my attacks first, and then I create a scramble and most likely I’m going to catch him in a submission.”
And Should Roller take down the Duke Roufus product, Pettis has prepared for the inevitable
“I did three days at Pat Miletich (Miletich Fighting System), a lot of tough wrestlers there,” he proclaimed.
“These dudes are just bangers. I was sparring with these guys, I think I knocked out a dude with a head kick, and he got right back up and started sparring with me again.
“We had Ben Askren come down. If I can get up against him, I won’t have any problems with Shane.”
While his skill and obvious potential anchor his game, Pettis claims it’s his hard training put into his camps that relay his confidence back inside the cage, and he will call upon that once again in hopes for a title shot, something he doesn’t want to pass up carelessly.
“I’m extremely confident. The confidence comes from training camp,” declared Pettis.
“I put in a hard training camp, I put in really hard work for this fight. I stayed true to everything. True to my training, true to my diet. I know what’s at stake for this fight, and I’m really trying to finish this fight. I’m going to be smart about it, but I’m trying to finish this fight.”