Anthony Pettis says he was faced with an impossible choice the day before UFC 206.
Make the contracted weight for an interim featherweight title fight and risk not being able to fight at all, or stop cutting, come in heavy and allow the fight to go on.
Pettis chose the latter. After a “brutal” weight cut, he came in three pounds over the 145-pound limit and was not able to win the interim featherweight belt had he defeated Max Holloway in the main event fight Dec. 10.
“Showtime” was still able to fight, though, rather than the UFC losing a headliner. So he believes he made the right call, he told Ariel Helwani on a recent edition of The MMA Hour.
“That wasn’t an option,” Pettis said of not fighting. “They made us the main event. That would have ruined that card, so that wasn’t an option, you know?”
Pettis said if he would have continued cutting to 145, he likely would have been too sick to fight, much like Khabib Nurmagomedov before UFC 209, who had to be taken to the hospital during a bad weight cut. The former UFC lightweight champion said he had to take a few drinks before even going down to the weigh-ins, because he was unable to walk under his own power.
“I couldn’t even walk down to the scale,” Pettis said. “I had to drink water and put some [liquid] into my body to walk down, weigh-in for the fight. Most guys probably wouldn't have fought. I’m not making excuses, but most guys wouldn't have fought the way I was feeling. The UFC doc was up there watching me and I couldn’t even walk downstairs to get on the scale.”
Pettis, 30, said he made the decision right then and there to end his run at 145 pounds and move back up to 155. Pettis said he focused hard on the weight cut, came into fight week only 6.8 pounds over 145, but his body did not cooperate. He believes he wasn’t even close to 100 percent when he stepped in the Octagon against Holloway, who ended up beating Pettis by third-round TKO.
“I just couldn’t get the weight off,” Pettis said. “It was just one of them things. My body shut down. I had never felt that way before. So I just knew that was it for me at ‘45.”
In his return to lightweight, Pettis will meet veteran Jim Miller at UFC 213 on July 8 in Las Vegas. “Showtime” defeated Charles Oliveira after dropping down to featherweight following three straight losses, but the second cut to 145 did him in. Pettis said he’s looking forward to fighting again in his natural weight class.
“That whole camp [for Holloway] was just me cutting weight,” Pettis said. “It wasn’t me getting better, it wasn’t me trying to get new game plans. It was really just me cutting weight. I had to run double the amount. I had to do less physical activity, because I was too weak. But it is what is. You live and you learn. I’ve made some good money in the 145-pound division, but now I’m going back to my home, my 155-pound division.”
Pettis said he won’t make the same mistake he did after he lost the lightweight belt to Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 185 in March 2015. He won’t try to jump into fight after fight. He took months off after falling to Holloway and feels rejuvenated. This potential run back to the title will be one of patience, he said.
“I put myself in a bad position at 155, because of the rush trying to get back to a title shot,” Pettis said. “This time I’m coming back and I’m just taking it one fight at a time. I’ve got a solid guy in front of me.”
Instead of thinking about his own career, Pettis said he zeroed in on the career of his brother Sergio, who fights Brandon Moreno in a huge flyweight fight atop UFC Fight Night 114. Aside from that, Pettis said he has re-centered his thoughts on getting back to the title gradually, rather than feeling like he lost something and must snatch it back immediately.
“I’ve been fighting a long time,” Pettis said. “It’s only a matter of time before I figure it all out again and get back to where I was at.”
Best of all, the weight issues at UFC 206 are in the rear-view mirror. Pettis called it the low point of his decorated career.
“Most definitely,” he said. “Missing weight is one of those things that you never want to happen.”