Those around him may lament the loss of a promised title shot, but Anthony Pettis refuses to dwell on the what-ifs.
The final WEC lightweight champion and would-be top UFC contender opted to take a fight with Clay Guida rather than wait on the sidelines for a shot at the gold.
Guida derailed Pettis' momentum with a grinder-like performance at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale on Saturday. But Pettis isn't a regretful guy.
The fight co-headlined Saturday's event at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. It was one of five that aired on Spike TV after a free preliminary-card stream on Facebook.
Pettis (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) – who scored a series of highlight-reel knockouts prior to the UFC-WEC merger – could have maintained his title shot with a win in Saturday's UFC debut. But he's no longer at the front of a line for a shot at current champ Frankie Edgar or upcoming title challenger Gray Maynard.
So does he regret his decision to fight rather than wait? Does the decision loss to Guida (29-11 MMA, 9-5 UFC) now provide a harsher sting?
"Not at all," Pettis said. "I feel I had some holes in my game, and Clay Guida and (Guida's trainer) Greg Jackson did a great job of having a good gameplan. I've got to go back to the drawing board and get better there."
Pettis is dangerous to anyone on his feet, and though he has a solid submission game, Guida exposed a glaring weakness: wrestling defense. "The Carpenter" wore down the Duke Roufus-trained Pettis with frequent takedowns, a dominant and smothering top game, and better results from the clinch.
Still, some thought the eventual 30-27 victory was too generous for Guida and that Pettis did enough from his back to win a round or two, if not the fight.
Pettis, though, isn't one of those believers.
"I think I knew control-wise, he was on top, and he did a good job staying on top," he told MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps | MMAjunkie.com
). "I couldn't get my submissions off. I attempted a lot. I hit him a lot. I just understand how the game works. If he controls you, you lose the round. I didn't do enough to get up off my back, so big up to Clay."
For Pettis, a 24-year-old who turned pro just four years ago, worse things can happen than a loss to Guida, who's now four straight to enter serious title contention. After all, before the setback, Pettis posted a series of victories over the elite of the WEC's former 155-pound class: Danny Castillo, Alex Karalexis, Shane Roller and Ben Henderson.