Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Anthony Pettis Opens Up On Struggles In His First PFL Season

Former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis didn’t have the ideal start to the new chapter of his MMA career in the PFL in 2021.

Pettis signed with the PFL last year after a long tenure in the UFC, which included a reign as the lightweight king. He would go on to lose the belt at UFC 185 before up-and-down runs at featherweight and welterweight.

Pettis was seen as arguably the biggest acquisition by the league in recent years. Many believed he would be the favorite to earn the league’s lightweight championship in his first season, but it wasn’t to be.

Pettis went winless in his rookie season with the PFL, falling to Clay Collard in the season opener before a controversial split decision loss to Raush Manfio at PFL 6. He would fail to qualify for the postseason after being regarded as the title favorite in some circles.

As Pettis gets ready for a potential bounceback in 2022 in the PFL, he’s still reflecting on what went wrong last year. During a recent interview with MMA Island, Pettis opened up on his first season with the league.

“I didn’t know what to expect last year in the PFL, honestly,” Pettis said. “You know I was coming over from a format of the UFC, of we would fight, take our time off, heal our injuries and then call somebody out, get the next fight, have a camp, sometimes have a quick short-notice fight that would be like the worst-case scenario. But like the PFL format and the season is probably one of the hardest formats of fighting there is. You know, fighting every eight weeks is the fight.”

Anthony Pettis Reflects On Losses & Pressure Of First PFL Year

PFL 6 results: Anthony Pettis loses again, Kayla Harrison extends unbeaten  record to 10-0 - Bloody Elbow
Anthony Pettis, Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Pettis’ loss to Collard was a shocking upset in many eyes. He was knocked down multiple times in the fight and seemed to struggle to get anything going with his striking. Pettis said his first fight set him back in the lightweight division.

“Like the first fight I went out there and fought Clay Collard; I had a horrible performance from the way the cage felt it was like I never fought on canvas, for I mean—I haven’t fought on vinyl in a long time where I was used to fight on canvas,” Pettis admitted. “Every kick I threw, I was slipping. I was falling down, so it was like a lot of adjustments after that first fight where I was like, all right I only have eight weeks to change this fighting style to make it work for this style for fighting in this cage and this floor, so I worked on my boxing for the second half of the season.

“I had a great close fight with the champ Raush Manfio. I thought I won that fight, but obviously, he got it. He got his million bucks. I’m not a hater. Congrats to him, but for me, it’s like I know how good I am and where I’m at and I’ve seen he’s the champion and seen how our fights went, I’m right there. I just got to make small adjustments, and I think the experience from last season is going to definitely help me out with this season.” 

Pettis went on to admit that he felt the pressure of being a big-name fighter entering a new promotion.

“There was a lot of pressure too,” Pettis said. “It’s weird because like you know even being a vet where I’m at in the fights that I fought in there was a lot of pressure going to a new organization and they were like expecting, well I felt like they’re expecting that show to come out and I put a lot of pressure on myself to fight that way. This time around I’m like yo that one out of the system, let’s have this season to win and not to perform if you will.”

Pettis will be joined by Manfio, Collard, and former UFC fighter Jeremy Stephens during the 2022 lightweight season. He defeated Jeremy Stephens via split decision at UFC 136 as he made his run to the belt.

Pettis is looking to remind fight fans of how dominant he can be in the cage when he’s at his best. While some may be writing off Pettis already, he’s looking to silence the doubters in the upcoming season.

What are your predictions for Anthony Pettis in 2022?

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