Since winning the now obsolete WEC lightweight belt back in December of last year and by default earned himself a prospective shot at UFC title-holder Frankie Edgar, Anthony Pettis has not had the best of times since coming to the UFC.
After beating Ben Henderson in a hotly contested and adrenaline fueled five rounds, he found himself up against stiff competition in Clay Guida, an experienced and explosive wrestler, whose main offense is purely breaking people, in a Jon Fitch manner of demoralizing his opponent with takedowns and ground ‘n pound. He lost by a Unanimous Decision because he could not stop Guida from taking him down and keeping on the ground for much of the fight.
The loss most definitely cost Pettis next dibs on Edgar’s gold and instead pushed him down outside of the Top 5. In order to get back Pettis back in the title hunt, he and his camp came to a decision that he needed to slightly alter his style to accommodate the high level wrestlers which make up most of the division’s elite.
Pettis elaborated about a style-change in a recent interview with Sherdog where he said, “You look at the UFC lightweight division, the top guys are all wrestlers,” Pettis said. “Me being a striker, I don’t fit into that picture. I need to adjust my game to fit in with the top-level guys in the UFC.”
The Roufusport product learned a lesson from the loss to Guida and used a total of six completed takedowns to narrowly out-point Jeremy Stephens, a strategy he commented on, stating, “I’m still going for my bread-and-butter, which is knockouts, but fighting a guy like Stephens, you don’t want to stay in the pocket with that guy too long.”
Some of his long time fans, may be concerned that we may not see many more of his patented ‘Showtime Kick’, Pettis addressed this in the interview by explaining, “I think I’m going to have to just find out how to make them work at this level,” Pettis said of his crowd-pleasing antics. “It’s easy to do it when you’re fighting guys who aren’t as good at striking as you or don’t pose a threat and you can do whatever you want, but now that these guys (have) good boxing and good kicking and good defense, you’ll still see it, but it’s going to be limited. I have to be careful. I have to win fights. If I want to be a champ, I need to win fights.”
With a new mindset and a seemingly unlimited level of potential, it seems evident he will definitely be doing just that for years to come.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC