Former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis says he’s now a free agent.
Pettis on Tuesday announced via Twitter he’d “decided to part ways” with his promoter “to explore free agency,” ending a relationship that began 11 years ago under the now-defunct WEC and led to a lightweight title in the UFC.
In a message posted minutes after the initial announcement, Pettis included a letter of resignation to UFC President Dana White and several UFC executives, thanking them for a “wild ride.”
Pettis also added: “I am excited about my future. I promise I am not done.”
After 12 years I’ve decided to part ways with the UFC to explore free agency.— Anthony Pettis (@Showtimepettis) December 23, 2020
Messages to the UFC and Pettis’ reps at First Round Management were not immediately returned. Pettis this past weekend fulfilled the final obligation on his previous contract with the promotion, outpointing Alex Morono via unanimous decision at UFC Vegas 17.
Afterward, Pettis said he was “not attached to anything” regarding his fighting future and said he would take some time off before deciding his next step.
“I’m open to see what they come back at me at,” he said. “My little brother [Sergio Pettis is] outside of the UFC now, and it’s one of those things like I’m not attached to anything any more. I’m taking one fight at a time.
“My goal is to be the best version of myself. Obviously, the UFC is where the best guys are at, so I would love to fight in this organization still. But we’ll see what happens. Contracts negotiations are something that happens outside of my world. I still have an agent to take care of that.”
Sergio Pettis defected to Bellator this past year after completing his contract with the UFC; he is on the short list for a bantamweight title shot.
Minutes after Pettis’ tweet, veteran Bellator lightweight Patricky “Pitbull” Freire welcomed the ex-UFC champ.
It’s unclear at this time the terms of Pettis’ previous contract. Typically, fighters are bound to the promotion by an exclusive negotiating period before being able to entertain offers from other promoters, known as a matching period. Terms of release, however, can be modified at the UFC’s behest.
Pettis is managed by the same company that reps Yoel Romero, who was recently released from contract following a third loss. Romero said the release was “completely unexpected” and later signed with Bellator.
The ViacomCBS-owned promotion has recently acquired several high-profile free agents. Bellator President Scott Coker did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Pettis’ announced departure.
Pettis served a decorated career in the octagon that began with the folding of the WEC into its parent promotion. After a stumble in his debut, he went on a five-fight winning streak that culminated in a lightweight title captured from Benson Henderson, whom he defeated in the WEC to become that promotion’s lightweight champ. He lost the title in his subsequent outing and went on a three-fight skid. After a brief flirtation with the featherweight class, he later went up to welterweight, where he went 3-1.
Pettis’ win over Moreno marked his 20th UFC appearance. He won eight performance bonuses in the promotion.