Sergio Pettis may have been on the verge of losing his bantamweight championship to Kyoji Horiguchi at Bellator 272 on Friday night, but he was determined not to let that happen.
In what is already considered a ‘Knockout of the Year’ contender, Pettis did the unthinkable and caught Horiguchi with a spinning backfist that sent him crashing to the canvas in the fourth round of their fight. The fight-ending highlight came after the champion was being dominated in all facets by the challenger, who found success over the course of three-and-a-half rounds with an awkward, yet effective style that Pettis seemed not to have an answer for.
Pettis spoke at the post-fight press conference and admitted that though he was despondent at times, he knew he was still capable of changing the course of the fight at any moment.
“I’m beat up right now, man,” said Pettis. “The first one through four rounds, he was getting me. He was getting me frustrated. He got me with some interesting movements, some in-and-out plays, and I had to face a lot of adversity tonight to get that finish. And it was perfect. It was beautiful.”
Pettis was then asked about the duality of his win, celebrating arguably the most memorable knockout of his professional career so far and reacting to the scary scene that was Horiguchi lying still on the ground for several minutes after the fact. The current RIZIN FF bantamweight champion was eventually taken out of the cage on a stretcher but was conscious when he left.
Pettis said he would rather not do something like that, but if it meant avoiding a similar scenario in which he was on the opposite end of, then so be it.
“It’s not something I want to do,” said Pettis. “I don’t want to hurt anybody so bad that they’re unconscious like that or have damage later on in their life. So it definitely, it’s part of the job unfortunately, but it is what it is. At the end of the day, it’s kind of bogus to say, but it’s better him than me, so that’s how I’ve got to be when I’m out here. I’m very nice person and kind human being, but he would’ve done the same to me.”
With the win over Horiguchi, Pettis can now look ahead to the rest of the bantamweight division, which was shaken up following the announcement of an eight-man Grand Prix set to take place next year. There are plenty of contenders that are gunning for him, and Pettis is eager to get back to work so he can meet whatever challenge is thrown at him when he returns.
“Honestly, it just makes me want to work harder. I got dominated the first four rounds. I got some stuff that I need to work on, and I definitely got an awesome knockout, but there’s some stuff that I need to address for my career for longevity, and that’s what I’m here for. I’ve hopefully got another eight to 10 years in me.”