Anthony Pettis has been waiting for a shot at the lightweight title for three years. The Showtime kick win over Henderson in WEC is 2010 should have earned a UFC shot, but then Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard fought to a rematch demanding draw, which happened in 2011. Pettis took a lesser fight, vs. Clay Guida, and lost. In 2012 injuries kept him to a single fight, a KO win over Joe Lauzon. A win early in 2013 over Donald Cerrone left him poised for another title shot, but he instead took a title shot at featherweight vs. Jose Aldo. And again injuries kept him out of it.
Finally the stars aligned, and he got a title shot, in his hometown of Milwaukee.
“Man, I think I had the worst luck ever,” said Pettis. “From injuries to timing to the UFC coming to Milwaukee and me not being on that card at first, I was down and out after that Aldo fight fell through. I thought I did some bad things in a previous life and I was getting punished for it. But everything worked out and obviously it’s here now, so I try to look at the positive of everything.”
“There was a higher power at work here. I was so down and out after the Jose Aldo fight. Everybody’s like ‘oh Pettis faked the injury, he can’t make 145.’ You go from being talked about like ‘Pettis is a top prospect, he’s gonna be a champion,’ to I’m faking injuries because I’m scared to fight people. So I was down and out, and the way the cards played out, it makes me realize that there was a higher power at work. This was meant to be. I was meant to fight in my hometown, I’m meant to fight Ben Henderson for the lightweight title, and I’m not saying that’s gonna make me win the fight – I still have to work for that – but the way the cards wound up: my opportunity, in my hometown, right in front of me, it couldn’t be more exciting.”
“He is changing up his stances and doing different things, but he’s not fighting much different. He’s a little more intense out there, but then again, he’s not convincingly winning fights. He’s not out there demolishing people, so when you fight a guy like Ben Henderson, I’m not worried about getting knocked out, I’m not worried about getting submitted, I’m worried about getting outpointed.
"So that plays into my game plan, how he’s been fighting. And not taking anything away from him, he’s a great fighter, he’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu, his striking’s getting better, and his wrestling’s some of the best in the division, so he’s one of those guys that has gotten better and understands the game a lot better too. And so do I. After that Guida fight, it totally changed the way I thought about points and the way that fights should be fought. You’ve got to understand that at the end of the day, you better be up on the judges’ scorecards.”
“There are two ways you can go about it. You can either say all right, now I need to play these rules to my advantage and I need to win on the judges’ scorecards and I’m still winning fights, or you can take it the way I take it and say all right, I need to finish these guys. I need to be that much better than these guys so it better not go to the judges’ scorecards, because if it does, there’s a good chance I could lose. I’m the guy now that I’m figuring out how to beat these guys in the first round. I don’t want to go five rounds and 25 minutes; I’m trying to get you out of there in the first five.”
“The only way to get over it is to win the title. I’ve got to get in there, have the best performance of my life, have that belt around my waist, and then it will all make sense.”
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What do you think UG? Higher power at work? And if so, or if not, who do think takes it?