Sergio Pettis may have won his first six professional fights already, but he's still competing underneath the gigantic shadow of his older brother.
Anthony, of course, is the former WEC lightweight champion and will be fighting Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title in a few months.
After watching the 19 year old Sergio compete, it's obvious why he went into the family business. He displays the incredibly athletic ability of his older brother while also possessing some solid wrestling skills from his work on the high school team growing up.
In no rush to compete in UFC, Sergio was originally set to face fellow top flyweight prospect Matt Manzanares last weekend, but an injury to his opponent left him off the fight card.
Thankfully, his head coach Duke Roufus found someone on short notice willing to take him on at his own NAFC event back home in Milwaukee in Josh Robinson, a fellow flyweight prospect who actually defeated his teammate Dustin Ortiz the last time he competed at an NAFC show last May.
Pettis spoke to MMAmania.com during an appearance on The Verbal Submission about the late notice shift in opponent and venue, avenging the loss of a teammate and growing up with his brother Anthony in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I heard you just got home from work. Now by working do you do a job on the side or are you talking about all the work you put in at Roufus' gym and other places around Milwaukee?
Sergio Pettis: Nah, I actually work for my brother. He owns a martial arts school called Victory Martial Arts. I still teach martial arts and stuff like taekwondo over there.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about this upcoming fight. You were originally scheduled to face Matt Manzanares at RFA, he gets hurt and now instead, you're going back home to Milwaukee to fight Josh Robinson at the NAFC event. Can you talk to me about how this situation played out for you?
Sergio Pettis: Yeah man, I got really lucky. Unfortunately Matt got hurt, had a knee injury or something and I had trained hard for him, was dieting hard and when they told me he was injured, my world came to an end. I was really upset and really down for another couple days. Then Duke found another fight for me in Milwaukee and my weight was already low from training so hard for Matt so now all that hard training is going to go for Josh. I'm really excited to fight in front of my family as well.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This is the third time you've fought for NAFC. I was cageside at your last event when you fought Chris Haney and your opponent Josh Robinson was there too. He scored one of 2013's biggest upsets over Dustin Ortiz. Do you almost feel like you're getting an opportunity to avenge a teammate with this fight?
Sergio Pettis: Oh yeah, of course. It's gonna be a whole different fight for Josh and me too. I definitely feel more comfortable because of my teammate. Dustin was like, "Go beat him up, man. He beat me so do some work on him." I'm excited to lay my hands on him, touch him up and hopefully end the fight quickly.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Were you able to get any pointers from Ortiz? It seemed like Robinson had a bit of a unique style in the cage.
Sergio Pettis: Yeah, he just said he moves a lot, he's really active on his feet. I'm gonna press him, gonna get him tired and if worse comes to worst, I'll take him down and do damage on the floor. I'm a stand-up fighter and that's where I love to be. He's gonna have a couple surprises in store, stuff that he's never seen before and I'm thinking I'm gonna make him really uncomfortable, force him to make a mistake and then capitalize on the mistake.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): The RFA event was supposed to be in Vegas but now you're fighting back home in Milwaukee. From what I saw firsthand, it seemed like a complete different atmosphere when you're fighting in front of the hometown fans.
Sergio Pettis: Yeah, when I fight in front of my family, I have a REALLY big family. My grandpa had 13 kids and his mom and dad had 23 so when I fight in Milwaukee, it's literally like my family and relatives are the entire crowd. I've got so much support there. Being in Milwaukee my entire life, I've got a lot of friends here as well that support me a lot so it almost feels like the crowd is there just for me. When I fought in Vegas for my last fight against Jimmy Jones, that's where he was from so the crowd was supporting him and I was the enemy so that's completely different.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now I read in a recent interview that your brother is deathly afraid of spiders. Have you ever used this against him in an April Fool's prank or anything?
Sergio Pettis: (laughs) Oh no, man. I'm probably gonna do it soon to catch him off guard. He's really cautious about spiders. You have no idea. I don't mess with him that much. I need to do something for sure.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What kind of brother was he? Was he the type that was always out protecting you or was he giving you noogies and a hard time overall when you were growing up?
Sergio Pettis: Actually, growing up, me and Anthony didn't get along that well. I got along with my older brother Ronaldo a lot better than I got along with Anthony. As I started growing up, I started maturing and understanding Anthony. This sport brought us very close together and now we live together, train with each other every day and I'm very grateful to have him in my life.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now you were originally expecting to fight for number one contender to the flyweight title with RFA against Manzanares. What's the plan with RFA now? Do you know the extent of Manzanares' injury? Are you hoping he'd be ready to go in a couple months?
Sergio Pettis: They really haven't given me that much information about it. From what I heard he's really injured and is gonna be out for a while so I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon. It's unfortunate. Me and him would have been a really great fight. He's a great boxer and I'm a great kickboxer so it would have been boxer vs kickboxer and the fans would have loved it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I'm not sure if you've been paying attention but your fight timing is almost eerily convenient with The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season 18 tryouts just a couple weeks afterwards. Have you put any though into trying out considering they're looking for 135 pounders and a majority of TUF fighters compete at a weight class above what they compete?
Sergio Pettis: Yeah, a lot of people have been talking to me about it, asking me questions about whether I'd want to try out. I think you have to be 21 to try out and since I'm only 19 right now, yeah, that puts that thought on hold for a while. I've got two more years. If I were 21, for sure I'd have done it.