Anthony Pettis urges fighters to consider alternatives to UFC: ‘It’s sad to see these guys make the decisions they make’
Anthony Pettis was a UFC star, but he wants fighters to know they have more options when it comes to achieving their own MMA glory.
The former UFC lightweight champion and current PFL fighter announced in December 2020 that he would step into the world of management and promotion with the launch of his Showtime Sports Entertainment group. Since then, Pettis has continued to compete, focusing on finding opportunities for up-and-coming fighters.
During a recent appearance on Hour of MMAPettis lamented the myopia of some fighters early in his career, especially when it comes to moving to the UFC.
“In terms of leadership, it’s sad to see these guys make the decisions they make,” Pettis said. “I was there and some of these guys are turning down big contracts in hopes of getting into a Contender Series fight. I see it over and over and I think, “Dude, look at your career.” Look at what age you are. Look how much time you have left. Let’s make some money before they disappear. The UFC dream that these guys want to compete in the Contender Series still exists. They risk not making money to take advantage of this opportunity.
“I get it, they see me and they see what the UFC has done for my name. Being the UFC champion definitely allowed me to do what I do now, but I just thought that at this stage we were already past it. Seeing the PFL go strong, Bellator ONE, there are so many organizations that these guys are so fixated on one place, but that’s the tricky part of managing. You really can’t control these guys, you can give them advice and it’s their decision in the end.”
Pettis made his professional debut at just 20 years old and compiled an 8-0 record before signing with the WEC in 2009. He fought his way to lightweight title and then became part of the UFC when the sister promotion was taken over by him. . Pettis became a champion again and received a major marketing push (in 2014, Pettis became the first MMA fighter to grace the Wheaties box) before he parted ways with the UFC in 2020 on a two-fight streak.
That 11-year experience under the banner of Zuffa, LLC taught Pettis a lot about the ins and outs of business, a wisdom he hopes to pass on to his clients.
“I understand some of these high-level guys, but the lower-level guys, you’re just getting started, I think you shouldn’t be so fixated on one path,” Pettis said. “Perhaps this is my disappointment. There are many other ways to achieve something, to become a stable athlete, to be able to live this life and not have another job. That should be the goal of most of these guys.
“I’m doing it. I am one of the best in the world. I don’t have to work at another job. I shouldn’t have 10 side hassles. I don’t have to do A, B, and C to make a living.” This is a kind of path that needs to be cleared right now. I think that with all these opportunities that are opening up, things are getting a lot easier.”
Although Pettis struggled in the PFL with just one win in five games, he stated that he was pleased with his contract not only because of the salary, but also because of the other opportunities given to him. It was recently announced that Pettis will take on the legendary Roy Jones Jr in the main event of Gamebred Boxing 4 on April 1 in Pettis’ hometown of Milwaukee.
In addition to this fight, Pettis remains on the PFL roster and expects to compete in one of the league’s pay-per-view cards later this year.
“When I left the UFC, I took risks,” Pettis said. “Then the PFL came in with an amazing contract and a cool format that I wanted to try, but I didn’t fight guys who were A level guys, guys who made me fight. It’s not about shooting them guys, it’s about where they’ve been in their career, in the format that I confronted them, but getting a phone call like Roy Jones Jr in your hometown, it couldn’t happen a couple of years ago. So it’s great to be in that position.”
It remains infrequent for top fighters to leave the UFC, although current former heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou made a splash in the industry with his recent year-long exit from the promotion and subsequent exit from the promotion. This led to speculation that others might follow Ngannou’s lead. though recent changes to the UFC’s contracts will make that even more difficult. — which Pettis would love to see, even though he knows the UFC will always have a big lead when it comes to landing fighters.
“I think guys should be willing to take that kind of risk,” Pettis said. “At the same time, being a fighter, I understand the ego that comes with it. If you want to say that you are the best in the world, that’s who the UFC champion is, and that’s exactly what it is. We all agree. Whoever the UFC guy is, we think he’s the best guy in the world as a team.
“I think as a fighter you want to be that kind of guy. “I don’t care, in the end if I’m that guy, I’ll make that money. When I become that guy, I will earn this money.” Unfortunately, not many guys get to this point, and once you get to it, you realize that it’s not that much money. After all, you can’t retire and kill yourself forever.”