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Duke Roufus: ‘I’m expecting a special Anthony Pettis to show up’ at UFC 226

Striking coach Duke Roufus has high expectations for former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis at UFC 226.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Norfolk-Poirier vs Pettis Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Since losing the UFC lightweight title to Rafael dos Anjos in 2015 at UFC 185, Anthony Pettis has been on a rough patch. After losing three of his next fights, “Showtime” decided to drop down to featherweight where he was also unsuccessful.

Pettis did return to 155-pounds after a four-month stint at featherweight in July of last year, where he won via unanimous decision against Jim Miller at UFC 213. However, it was followed by another loss, this time to top contender Dustin Poirier via third-round TKO in Virginia last November.

The 31-year-old Milwaukee was originally slated to face Michael Chiesa at UFC 223 last April in Brooklyn, but was called off due to Conor McGregor’s bus attack. The fight has since been rescheduled to take place at UFC 226, which banners International Fight Week this July.

Pettis no longer holds the same aura as he did during the peak of his “Showtime” years in the WEC and UFC in the early 2010s. But according to his head coach Duke Roufus, MMA fans would be seeing a different version of the former lightweight champion against Chiesa.

“This year, Anthony’s learned more about fighting, being a veteran, being a master, and focusing,” Roufus told MMAjunkie Radio. “These six months has been more legendary than (the last three years). He’s made up for lost time, and I’m expecting a special Anthony Pettis to show up on July 7th.”

Roufus could not help but liken Pettis’ situation with the storyline of Rocky III, as he recognizes both the hard times and the redemption he is expecting to happen.

“As ‘Apollo’ said, ‘We got civilized,’” Roufus said.

“He’s got that dog back in the fight, that faith, that look, that aggression, and that hunger,” he added. “Unfortunately, it happens (that fighters lose their edge). ‘Rocky’ movies are more realistic than people know.”

“For me, if he makes a comeback, it will be one of the most triumphant things I’ve ever done in my life.”

UFC 226 is slated to take place on July 7th in Las Vegas. It will be headlined by the heavyweight super fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier. Co-headlining the event is another title fight between featherweight champion Max Holloway, and undefeated contender Brian Ortega.

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