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Anthony Pettis on Jon Jones: 'You have to know how to say no'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Believe Anthony Pettis when he says he can relate to the latest plight of Jon Jones. Pettis, like Jones, is 27 years old, a UFC champion in the prime of a prodigious career, and one of the sport's most marketable fighters to boot. Not only that, but success came early to Pettis, just as it did four years ago when Jones became the youngest titleholder in UFC history.

On Tuesday, Jones entered himself into a drug treatment facility after popping positive for cocaine metabolites in a pre-UFC 182 random drug test. It's a song and dance Pettis has seen play out in his own life, along with the lives of those around him, when the temptations of adolescent superstardom first begin to unfurl, and blue-chip sponsorships come hand-in-hand with the leeches who cling to the young and famous. So while Pettis was disappointed to hear of Jones' misstep, he wasn't as taken aback by the news as many observers.

"I was surprised by it, but at the same time... man, he's only human," Pettis told "You're put in these situations, you're put in these bad situations in front of people who expose you to that kind of stuff. It takes a strong person to say no to that stuff."

Similar to Jones, Pettis has been thrust into a global spotlight many fighters dream of because of his accomplishments in the UFC. He spoke on Wednesday from Las Vegas' Consumer Electronics Show, where he's serving as a brand ambassador for Monster Headphones. That opportunity presented itself not long after Pettis became an ambassador for both Wheaties and Reebok, just two of the several lucrative sponsorships that have propelled Pettis from humble beginnings to financial success.

Jones, too, has enjoyed such success outside-the-cage. But for every young profile on the rise, the night's vices become all too attainable, and Pettis understands what Jones faces on a daily basis better than most.

"It's based on decisions," Pettis said. "If you put yourself in those positions, it's definitely there. The parties and the [drugs]. You see it every day.

"For me growing up, I grew up in the ghetto, so if somebody who's not doing as good as me in life said, ‘hey, try this out, it'll make you do this or feel this way,' [the answer is,] nah, you're not living as good a life as I am. But then if somebody who's doing better than you in life offers you it -- it's kinda how it's presented to you. When you're in this position, you meet all these successful people and all these people who are doing big things and have people looking up to them, and it's just there. It's just there and you have to know how to say no to it."

Pettis tragically lost his father when he was only 15, but drug abuse had been an on-again, off-again scar on his father's life long before that time, so Pettis understands the stakes that are at hand if Jones truly is struggling to cope with a substance abuse problem. It's the reason why Pettis didn't share the same macabre sense of glee that many of his fellow fighters expressed following the release of Jones' failed test.

"My first thing is, he's one of the greatest in our sport. So make sure he's healthy and gets his mind right before we can think about what's going to happen to him," Pettis said. "I've seen addiction, I've seen how drugs can ruin someone's life firsthand with my family, and I definitely don't wish that upon anybody. I'm sure the UFC is going to do what they have to do. They're going to do what's right."