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Diego Ferreira wants UFC 246 fight with Anthony Pettis to be just like Nate Diaz vs. ’Showtime’

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Diego Ferreira snapped Mairbek Taisumov's six-fight winning streak at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Anthony Pettis and Nate Diaz put on one of the best fights of the year in August, and Diego Ferreira wants his lightweight showdown with “Showtime” on Jan. 18 to be as exciting as that.

Undefeated since 2015, Ferreira enters UFC 246 on a five-fight winning streak after topping Mairbek Taisumov and Rustam Khabilov in 2019, and he’s celebrating a long-awaited chance against a top-ranked lightweight.

“He’s someone I’ve always admired because of the way he fights and what he was able to achieve,” Ferreira said of Pettis in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I always wanted to fight him, so I’m glad they gave me this opportunity now. I knew that my first fight with a ranked opponent would not be an easy one, but that only makes me more excited to go there and fight the toughest ones.”

Pettis fought twice this year, knocking out Stephen Thompson before losing a decision to Diaz five months later; both bouts were at 170 pounds. Ferreira expects Pettis’ cut back to 155 pounds to “affect him a little bit,” but foresees a three-round war in Las Vegas.

“I thought he had a great performance,” Ferreira said of Pettis’ decision defeat to Diaz at UFC 241. “They both fought hard and well, and I hope to put on a fight exactly like that one, to brawl with him. He likes to counter a lot, and I’m anxious to fight him.”

Ferreira started off his MMA career in 2011 after years of jiu-jitsu competition, but three of his four finishes inside the Octagon came by knockout. Pettis, on the other hand, is a decorated striker who has shown his grappling skills in the past, tapping Michael Chiesa, Charles Oliveira, Gilbert Melendez and Ben Henderson in the UFC.

“I think it’s a good match-up for me, because I put pressure, but I’ve seen him submit many top-five opponents,” Ferreira said. “I’m going in as the underdog, but I know what he’s going to do on the feet and on the ground. I’m going in there to fight. I can’t say anything different. I’m focused, so let’s go.”

Pettis has been stopped three times in the UFC as a lightweight, but Ferreira predicts a decision victory at T-Mobile Arena.

“I think about this fight 24 hours a day,” Ferreira said. “I think the ways I can beat him… I can’t stop thinking about what I have to do, the things I can do, what he might try. I think it goes the distance. It will be a fun fight for the fans. We’re going to brawl in there. I don’t know how I’m going to beat him, but I’m ready to fight and get it done.”

All but one of the seven fighters that have beaten Pettis since March of 2015 has won or at least fought for a UFC belt after defeating “Showtime.” Ferreira hopes a win at UFC 246 does the same for him in a crowded lightweight division.

“My goal is to be in the top-10 and get more fights to get where I want,” Ferreira said. “If they give me a chance to fight for the belt, who knows. But right now I’m just focusing on (fighting) the top five. That’s what matters to me right now.”