When Anthony Pettis’ bout with Jeremy Stephens at UFC 136 was originally announced many felt the fight would feature little more than powerful, precise striking exchanges from both with the ground game thrown out the window. However, after the dust settled in Houston, Pettis may have emerged a winner but did so without completely relying on his stupendous stand-up.
The 24-year old recently offered his own evaluation of the evening’s events in a press release where mentioned his improved wrestling as being key in the victory.
“This win over Stephens was huge! I needed to get back on the right track, and evolve as a fighter,” Pettis animatedly explained. “Losing to Clay Guida was a small setback in my journey to become the UFC Lightweight Champion.”
As far as the source of his evolution, the 14-2 Pettis credited his teammates for helping him grow in certain areas.
“At Roufusport, we got a group of guys that are all getting ready for battle, and that always helps immensely when you’re getting ready for a fight. I also had a full camp with Ben Askren for the first time, and I think you could see the difference in my wrestling. And I worked with Jo-Z (Joao Zeferino) on my jiu-jitsu, which is only going to make me better on the ground.”
In terms of how those skills played out in the fight, Pettis was quick point out the role his wrestling played in the performance, saying, “I felt that I dealt with Stephens’ takedowns very well. When he was able to take me down, I worked my guard real well. And I was able to get back to my feet really quickly. I feel like I surprised him with my offensive wrestling, too.”
“I feel like I’m climbing the ladder to a title shot. I had a really good showing against Stephens, who was really close to getting a title shot, too. I probably need a few more solid wins, but I got to take it one fight at a time, and keep improving and evolving,” he concluded.
The decision win was only the third of Pettis’ career with five TKOs and six submissions to his credit. In addition to Stephens, “Showtime” holds past victories over Danny Castillo, Shane Roller, and Ben Henderson.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC