Former WEC and UFC lightweight champion, Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis called time on his twelve-year stint under the Zuffa LLC banner earlier this week, penning a multi-fight deal with the PFL (Professional Fighters League).
Adding to an ever-evolving roster of talent the promotion has managed to entice this year, the Ray Sefo founded banner recently signed both former UFC heavyweight champion, Fabricio ‘Vai Cavalo’ Werdum as well as two-time Olympic gold medalist and boxing world champion, Claressa ‘T-Rex’ Shields.
Set to feature in the promotion’s 2021 lightweight tournament, Pettis, who completed the final fight on his UFC deal at UFC Vegas 17 last weekend — is currently riding a two-fight winning streak. 2-1 this year, Pettis has managed a pair of decision wins over two-time foe, Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, and Alex ‘The Great White’ Morono after a submission loss to Diego Ferreira.
Hoping to score his third world championship, Pettis noted how the possibility of adding PFL gold to his trophy cabinet inside twelve months of his promotional move was an outlying factor in his decision to link up with the organization.
“Honestly, I knew what I was looking for,” Pettis said in a recent interview with SCMP MMA. “My goal right now at this stage of my career is to become a champ. I’m still young in this game, I’m back motivated and hungry to become a champion and the deal the PFL offered me was very, very fair. And the opportunity to become a champion in twelve months, that’s exactly what I was looking for.“
“If I went to another organization, I would’ve had to fight my way up,” Pettis continued. “I’m not saying it couldn’t be done, but I love the format these guys put out. Also they’ve on ESPN, so it doesn’t change my audience, they can see my fights the exact same way, it just really made sense.“
A former UFC lightweight champion, Pettis scored a three-fight winning run over Jeremy Stephens, Joe Lauzon, and the above mentioned Cerrone on track to dethroning two-time foe, Benson ‘Smooth’ Henderson for the undisputed crown with a first-round armbar. In his lone successful title defence, Pettis submitted former Strikeforce 155-pound best, Gilbert ‘El Nino’ Melendez with a second-round guillotine.
Returning to the lightweight ranks, Pettis links up with former Octagon talents, Efrain Escudero, Ramsey Nijem, Jason High, Thiago Tavares, and Will Brooks, as well as Luiz Firmino and previous tournament victor, Nathan Schulte.