Anthony Pettis has explained his decision to leave the sports premier promotion to sign with the Professional Fighters League.

Pettis became a free agent after beating Alex Morono via decision at UFC Vegas 17 in December. ‘Showtime’ was expected to re-sign with the UFC but he instead opted to link up with PFL who have been making big moves lately signing Rory MacDonald, Fabricio Werdum and Claressa Shields.

In an interview with The Sun, Pettis explained that he bet himself by testing free agency and is hoping other fighters will be more willing to do the same moving forward.

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“It’s a gamble when you take that last fight on your UFC contract without re-signing, you’re taking a risk and betting on yourself,” Pettis said. “I left a legacy over there and I needed something new, a fresh start and new goals in this part of my life.

Pettis likes the PFL tournament structure and is happy to have a clear path to another title shot.

“Where I’m at in my career the PFL’s format was something really intriguing to me. PFL are making big moves, signing other fighters and big names. My goal is to be a champion, and with the season I can be a champion in 12 months. Any other organisation, you’d have to climb up the rankings, work my way up and hopefully get a title shot – but politics plays into all of that, too.

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“I’ve achieved the highest level at the UFC, won the belt and defended it one time. There has to be a growth factor in this job, if you’re in it just for the paycheck, well that’s how I felt I was plateauing, I was losing the motivation to find out what’s next.

“I was taking big risks and it was kind of like, ‘What’s next?’ I had to take a step back, slow the process down and that progression will help me improve as a martial artist.”

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Pettis says every fight is important now as he attempts to cement his legacy.

“Right now when I’m fighting, it’s for legacy,” Pettis said. “By me making this move I think it will be talked about down the line for years to come. I felt like I needed to make the change and show other fighters there are other promotions out there, other opportunities to fight. It was a big change, a big risk for me but I’m very excited about it.”

Do you think Anthony Pettis will become champion in PFL?

A lifelong fight fan from Liverpool, England who has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing for several years. Follow @JordanEllisUK on Twitter for all the latest fight news, views, interviews and live event coverage.