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They’re addicted to UFC fame - Former champ Pettis tells fighters to pick ‘guaranteed money’ instead

“I’ve got fighters that will say no to more money just to get on The Contender Series.”

Anthony Pettis during an interview in New York City.
Anthony Pettis during an interview in New York City.
Photo by Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Even with the existence of other promotions, it is undeniable that the UFC is still the most prominent name in the game today. But even with that high-profile reputation, many fighters tend to find greener pastures in other companies.

Former UFC champion Anthony Pettis, for one, is now seemingly more content as a PFL (Professional Fighter’s League) MMA fighter. And in his recent in-studio guesting on the MMA Hour, he spoke about how many of his fellow competitors prefer the fame and hype that being in the UFC brings.

“It’s weird. I think the fame that comes with fighting in the UFC, these fighters are addicted to that. They want that more than the guarantee,” he said. “They’re like, I’m willing to risk not getting paid a certain amount to get the fame that comes with it and the recognition that comes with fighting on a UFC fight card.

“The general public looks at the UFC like it’s the best place to fight, it’s the only place to fight. But as fighters, you’re supposed to take care of yourself. Most guys don’t get to fight as long as I got to fight. So I got to see all the phases of the MMA chain, from when the UFC got bought out to the WME, how those changes happened.”

As an example, Pettis revealed how many fighters would prefer to start at the bottom of the UFC totem pole.

“I’ve got fighters that will say no to more money just to get on ‘The Contender Series’ (DWCS),” he said.

“You can’t really do anything. You’re like, ‘Dude, this is guaranteed money – you can still build yourself and build your career – if that’s what makes sense for your career, then go to that.’

“But I think eventually, once the general public stops pushing that on fighters, then we’ll see fighters making different decisions.”

Ultimately, the 35-year-old Pettis has one piece of advice:

“I think fighters should definitely test the market. And there’s so many more organizations coming out now that are paying good guys. Eagle FC, Khabib’s show, they’re paying guys good money.”

Pettis signed with the PFL in 2021, and is so far on a 1-3 run. He last fought at PFL 5 in June against Stevie Ray and lost via second-round twister submission. The two are set for a rematch in the semis of the lightweight tournament at PFL 7 on August 5th.