Anthony Pettis: I’m out of the UFC ‘rat race’ and into the PFL $1,000,000 tournament

Former UFC lightweight champion started fighting in the league in 2011, but left in December to enter the PFL’s 2021 season. During a recent appearance on the What The Heck podcast, Pettis detailed his determination to become the face of his new home.

“I was looking at a couple of deals, a couple of opportunities and the PFL just made the most sense to me, especially at this point in my career,” said Pettis. “Their format for becoming a champion, I can become a champion in 12 months. It’s a season. I know when I’m gonna fight, it’s definitely a whole different experience for me having the tournament-style like this.

“And also I get to be the face of this company. I know there’s other big names in this, but I’m taking it on my own shoulders to be the face of this company. I feel like it’s my job to make this company a household name and people want to tune in and know when the next PFL fights are happening. That was another big thing for me, saying yes to this part of my career. Bellator, ONE FC, same kind of concept of the UFC, I’d have to work my way up to a title shot. I have to find out who’s the next guy in line, try that aspect, whereas this is laid out how to become a champion. I know how to do it. It’s in 12 months, in a year’s span, there’s 10 guys in my division and only four of ‘em I have to beat, so it’s exciting for me.”

“I wasn’t getting cut [by theUFC], I wasn’t on the chopping block, I had an offer from the UFC. But that offer was like putting me back in the same rat race I’ve been in, if you will. I’ve been in that rat race. I know I was going down to 155, everybody’s trying to get that belt again. There’s some names in front of me. It would have been fun to go back and take care of some guys that I know I could have beaten and that I lost to, but when I made this decision I took all that emotion away from it.

“I took away trying to be a champion in the UFC, trying to come back from losses that I had, rematches that I wanted. What makes sense for my career? What makes sense for Anthony Pettis right now? It didn’t take long. I knew what my goals were and these guys are giving me a format for it.”

Pettis also freely acknowledges there are exactly 1,000,000 great reasons at the end of the season, which if all does well will consist of two regular season fights to get into playoffs, and three fights to reach the $1 million division prize. Still, the day he signed the contract was a tough one.

“It was probably one of the most nervous days of my life,” said Pettis. “It was making a big decision. Like I’ve said, the UFC’s been nothing but great to me. I’ve had the best opportunities, I’ve gotten treated very, very well in the UFC, taken care of very, very well. Great opportunities. I grew up under them lights, them gloves are part of my life.

“Then deciding that I’m going to go see what’s next, the next part of my career, the next chapter of my career, turning the page onto the next part of my career, I was nervous. I still am nervous. Anything could happen.”

The “anything” potentially includes fighting Russian wrestling machines, and two-time PFL lightweight champion Natan Schulte.

“Obviously, you’ve got to look at that guy,” said Pettis. “He won twice in a row, definitely looked great, had some great striking, great jiu-jitsu, all-around great fighter, honestly. He comes from a great camp, so he has guys testing him all the time in his camp, but he hasn’t fought Anthony Pettis.

“He hasn’t fought somebody like me. The way my mindset is right now I’m just excited to go out there and actually perform. Not only win, but perform, and carry that flag on my back.”

h/t Alexander K. Lee for MMA Fighting

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