MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Sergio Pettis could keep making the flyweight limit if he wanted to, but he believes he’s got the skills to make it at the bantamweight division where he started his octagon run.
Pettis’ (17-4 MMA, 8-4 UFC) decision to move back up was first announced by his coach, Duke Roufus, after a UFC 229 loss to flyweight contender Jussier Formiga. Shortly after, the UFC confirmed a 135-pound matchup between Pettis and Rob Font (15-4 MMA, 5-3 UFC) at UFC on FOX 31, at Pettis’ hometown of Milwaukee.
That was in early October, meaning former UFC champion Demetrious Johnson had yet to be “traded” with ONE Championship’s Ben Askren. And, of course, reports of the UFC’s trimming down of its flyweight roster had yet to start circulating.
Speaking to reporters, including MMAjunkie, at a recent UFC on FOX 31 media day, Pettis talked about the circumstances around his decision to move back up.
“Obviously, I heard the rumors and I didn’t want to fight outside the UFC – I love the UFC,” Pettis said. “I’ve been with them for the past five years. I thought it was time to go back to 135, honestly. Just the way my body is growing. I’m 25 years old now. I might not be growing taller, but sideways, man, I’m getting bigger.
“The weight cut at 125 wasn’t hard, but that’s because I’m a strict athlete. I made it easy on myself. I could fight at 125 if I want to, but I also can fight at 135. I have the skillset to fight at 135. And I think it’s time. I don’t need to do these hard weight cuts anymore. I think I can just be myself.”
Pettis has shown that he can hang with heavier competition, having gone 3-1 in his early bantamweight run. It was at flyweight, though, that the UFC’s youngest Pettis brother came closest to title contention, going on a four-fight winning streak before the division’s current champ, Henry Cejudo, halted his momentum.
Pettis went 1-1 after that, beating multiple-time title challenger Joseph Benavidez via split decision before Formiga stopped him via unanimous decision. The fight in front of his home fans will mean a quick turnaround for Pettis, less than two months after the setback.
Font, in turn, comes off a losing effort against Raphael Assuncao. While he gone 3-3 in his past six, it’s worth noting that the setbacks were only to proven competitors in longtime 135-pound contender Assuncao, as well as stand-outs Pedro Munhoz and John Lineker.
With big finish wins over Thomas Almeida and Douglas Andrade in his record, the gritty Font is generally viewed as a stiff test for any bantamweight. And while that group includes Pettis, he welcomes the type of challenge that Font provides.
“I’m expecting a war,” Pettis said. “I know Rob Font is a tough athlete. He’s going to come at me, he’s going to try to knock me out. He’s not going to hold back. Especially, moving up a weight class. He’s going to think he has the size advantage and use that against me. But I fight so much better when people are pressing me and people are trying to actually bring the fight to me. It brings out the better me.”
To hear from Pettis, check out the video above.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Sergio Pettis explains decision to return to bantamweight, where 'I can just be myself'