After six years and 14 fights, Sergio Pettis decided to leave the UFC and ink a contract with Bellator MMA instead.
He’s not the first fighter to opt for a new home during free agency but at the time of his exit from the UFC, Pettis was still a top-ranked flyweight with a win over current No. 1 contender Joseph Benavidez.
Add to that, Bellator doesn’t even promote a 125-pound weight class for men, which meant he would have to compete at bantamweight where he found mixed success inside the Octagon while amassing a 3-2 record overall.
Now as he prepares to make his debut at Bellator 238, Pettis explains why he decided to leave the UFC and move to a new fighting home instead.
“I’ve always got love for the UFC. I started out there and that was my home. I’m getting older and I figure why not?” Pettis told MMA Fighting. “Why not take an opportunity? Why not take a risk?
“Bellator blessed me with a beautiful opportunity. I’m excited to go out and showcase what I’ve got for them. I’m 26 years old, I figured why not make my name a little bit bigger wherever I go.”
Outside of competing on the regional circuit when he first started fighting professionally, Pettis had never known a home that wasn’t the UFC.
Bellator not only offered him a financially satisfying contract but it also allowed him the chance to see how other organizations operate as he enters the prime of his career.
“Why not hop around and see what’s good for me,” Pettis said. “I’m young enough to make that move and Bellator’s a great organization. I have some friends and teammates who fight here and I’m like why not make the move? Then the opportunity happened.”
When it comes to fighting at bantamweight, Pettis isn’t all that nervous about packing on a few more pounds and no longer starving himself to get down to the flyweight limit.
It’s an adjustment but one he’s willing to make for the chance to fight in Bellator.
“My whole career I was at 135 and I jumped down to 125 in the UFC and then went back up again when the division was being taken away. I’m getting on in years so the weight cut was getting a little tougher. I feel bantamweight’s the right move right now,” Pettis explained.
“I feel like I’m good enough to fight at bantamweight and I don’t need to cut the extra pounds to go to flyweight. Not saying the division wasn’t tough. The division was tough. We saw [Henry] Cejudo come in and beat the No. 1 guy at 135 pounds and take the title. But this is a good opportunity for me.”
With his first fight this weekend, Pettis hopes to kickstart a run that will eventually lead to a title shot but he’s not jumping ahead just yet.
He knows he’ll have a target on his back for all the top 135-pounders looking to build a name by beating him so Pettis is just ready for Bellator to start lining them up so he can knock them back down again.
“I came into the sport with a target. I’m Anthony Pettis’ little brother. So everyone wanted to see what I was made of,” Pettis said. “I want to go out there every time and make a statement. I feel like I’m in good place. I’m feeling so sharp.
“I feel like I’m going to be a contender in this division whether the opportunities are there or not. I’m not looking for handouts or the belt to come to me. I’m just going to keep stacking up the wins and do what I do best.”
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