Since losing the UFC lightweight title in 2015 to Rafael dos Anjos, Anthony Pettis has not been his usual “Showtime” self. Prior to Saturday night’s fight against Michael Chiesa at UFC 226, the 31-year-old Milwaukee native went on a 2-4 run, including two fights at featherweight.
Pettis now feels rejuvenated after scoring a huge second-round submission win over Chiesa. According to him, he was now able to not worry too much about defending takedowns, which he attributes his recent losses to.
“It feels good to go in there with confidence. I went in there without doubting the takedowns, if he took me down it wasn’t a big issue,” Pettis said during a post-fight media scrum. “We had jiu-jitsu waiting for him, and that’s what showed in the fight.”
“I just got tired of losing. I knew I was better than all of these guys I’m losing against and I just took myself out of my element. I couldn’t focus on the takedowns; it took away from my striking, it took away from my jiu-jitsu, and we got away from it and it shows in my results.”
Pettis admits that he does need to sharpen his wrestling, but this time around, he intends to tailor it around the skills he is actually adept at.
“We threw wrestling in there, and that’s just not for me,” Pettis said. “Obviously, I need to know a little bit of it, but my takedown defense was better tonight than it has been in all the last couple of fights that I’ve been forcing it down my throat.”
“I got away from that. I got to just defending double-legs and whizzering, and it takes away from what I’m good at.”
Now back on the winning track, Pettis is ready to get himself into another run for the title, alongside his brother Sergio. For starters, he wants to get back some of his losses.
“We sat down this year and said ‘Pettis bros are gonna become world champions’, and that’s what we’re gonna do. Sergio’s just on fire right now and I’m feeding on that energy. It feels good.”
With the win over Chiesa, Pettis (21-7, with 17 wins by stoppage), also bagged $50,000 for Performance of the Night.