Anthony Pettis (born January 27, 1987) is an American mixed martial artist who competes in the lightweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where he is the current UFC Lightweight Champion. He was the final WEC Lightweight Champion before merging the promotion into the UFC. As of March 17, 2014, he is #7 in official UFC pound-for-pound rankings.
Born to Eugene Pettis Jr. and Annette Garcia, Anthony Pettis grew up in the south side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, along with his older brother Ray Pettis and younger brother Sergio Pettis. Pettis is of Puerto Rican and Mexican ancestry. His grandfather Anglicized the family name from Perez to Pettis to avoid discrimination. Pettis attended Dominican High School. He started training taekwondo and boxing at an early age.
Anthony “Showtime” Pettis made his professional MMA debut in December 2007. He compiled an undefeated record of 8–0 in shows all based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin before debuting with the WEC.
Pettis also has a professional kickboxing background.
Pettis is coached by legendary Kickboxer and MMA trainer Duke Roufus and is a member of Roufusport where he trains with fighters Alan Belcher, Erik Koch, Ben Rothwell, Ben Askren and Danny Downes.
Pettis made his WEC debut at WEC 41, where he defeated Mike Campbell via first round triangle choke.
He was then expected to fight Rob McCullough at WEC 44 on November 18, 2009, but was pulled off the card with an undisclosed injury.
Pettis suffered his first professional loss on December 19, 2009 at WEC 45, dropping a close split decision to Bart Palaszewski.
Pettis rebounded from the loss with a head kick KO victory over Danny Castillo on March 6, 2010 at WEC 47, earning Knockout of the Night honors. Training for the fight, as well as Pettis’ family life, were both documented on an episode of the MTV show, World of Jenks.
Pettis suffered virtually no damage in the bout with Castillo and made a quick return at WEC 48 against Alex Karalexis. He won the fight via submission in the second round.
Pettis faced Shane Roller on August 18, 2010 at WEC 50. Pettis surprised many by taking down Roller multiple times and frustrating him with fast paced scrambles. Pettis displayed a lot of diversity in his striking, namely two Capoeira kicks, including the martelo as well as the aú batido. After several submission attempts, Pettis finally secured a fight ending triangle choke in the closing seconds of the fight, earning a Submission of the Night bonus.
His last WEC fight came against Benson Henderson on December 16, 2010 at WEC 53 for the WEC Lightweight Championship. The fight was closely contested throughout, providing back and forth action, both standing and on the ground. In the fifth round, Pettis jumped off the cage with a move now known as the Showtime Kick with his right foot, making a shearing movement with his left leg, then kicking Henderson in the face with his right foot. Pettis won the fight via unanimous decision (48–47, 49–46, 48–47) to become the final WEC Lightweight Champion. The fight was also awarded as Fight of the Night which won Henderson and Pettis an extra $10,000.
In October 2010, World Extreme Cagefighting merged with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. As part of the merger, a majority of the WEC fighters were transferred to the UFC.
Pettis was expected to face the winner of Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, which took place at UFC 125. However, the bout was declared a draw, and Edgar/Maynard 3 was scheduled for UFC 130, but both fighters sustained injuries before the fight, which was postponed.
Instead of waiting for the winner of Edgar/Maynard 3, Pettis faced Clay Guida on June 4, 2011 at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale. Despite repeatedly getting taken down by Guida, Pettis showed good defense off his back, controlling Guida’s wrists and attempting multiple submissions, while taking little damage, even securing Guida’s back. However, Guida was able to escape and in return secured Pettis’s back to end the third round ultimately giving Guida the victory via unanimous decision.
Pettis defeated Jeremy Stephens via split decision on October 8, 2011 at UFC 136 in a closely contested bout. Pettis used superior wrestling to control Stephens which was especially showcased in round 2, where he was able to take Stephens down three times.
Pettis faced Joe Lauzon on February 25, 2012 at UFC 144. He won the fight via first round KO, with a head kick followed by punches. His performance earned Knockout of the Night honors.
After spending the majority of 2012 recovering from a litany of injuries, Pettis faced Donald Cerrone on January 26, 2013 at UFC on Fox 6. Pettis won the fight by TKO in the first round, finishing Cerrone with a kick to the body. The performance also earned Pettis Knockout of the Night honors. After the victory, Dana White said he was ‘sold’ on Pettis and admitted that after Benson Henderson against Gilbert Melendez on UFC on Fox 7, Pettis was to be the next to fight for the lightweight title.
On February 5, it was announced that Pettis would not wait for a title shot at lightweight, and would instead be dropping down to 145 pounds to challenge featherweight champion, José Aldo on August 3, 2013 at UFC 163. However, on June 14, Dana White announced that Pettis had pulled out of the Aldo bout with an injury, and that Aldo would instead defend the title against Chan Sung Jung.
Following a quick recovery, Pettis received a UFC lightweight title shot as he replaced an injured TJ Grant against Benson Henderson on August 31, 2013 at UFC 164. The fight was a rematch from the last WEC event, WEC 53, where Henderson was defeated by Pettis via unanimous decision. Pettis defeated Henderson via armbar submission in the first round, taking a championship belt from Henderson for the second time, and becoming the new UFC Lightweight Champion. The win also earned Pettis his first Submission of the Night bonus award in the UFC.
Pettis was expected to make his first title defense against TJ Grant on December 14, 2013 at UFC on Fox 9. However, Grant revealed in mid-September that he has yet to be medically cleared after suffering a concussion in training and would not be eligible to compete on December 14 and opted to decline the bout. Pettis was then expected to face Josh Thomson at the event. However, the bout was cancelled in mid-November after Pettis pulled out of the bout citing a knee injury.
Jose Aldo again was in talks to fight Pettis after defending his title against Ricardo Lamas. At The post fight conference, Aldo expressed interest to move up and fight Pettis at 155 lbs, Pettis then responded via text to Dana White. Dana White went on to say that the two were set to meet. However, with Gilbert Melendez recently becoming a free agent and in talks with rival MMA organization Bellator, the UFC matched Bellator’s offer to keep Melendez in the organization and promised to give Melendez the next title shot; scrapping Aldo vs Pettis.
Pettis will now be a coach of The Ultimate Fighter 20. He will be coaching against Gilbert Melendez.
Along with Duke Roufus, Pettis owns the Showtime Sports Bar in Milwaukee. Anthony and his girlfriend Alexandra have a daughter named Aria, born in July 2011.
Pettis along with Jon Jones, Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez, Mark Muñoz, Chad Mendes, and Scott Jorgensen starred in a Form Athletics (now owned by K-Swiss) commercial.
On December 2, 2013 Pettis received a Certificate of Achievement by the Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker.
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