'Smarter' Sergio Pettis looks to show improved fight IQ against Yaotzin Meza at UFC Fight Night 42

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

Can "The Phenom" find his way back to the winner's circle in "The Duke City?"

After making a successful Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut last year at UFC 167, defeating Will Campuzano via unanimous decision, Sergio Pettis suffered the first loss of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career at the hands of Alex Caceres at UFC on FOX 10 just two months later.

"Bruce Leeroy" forced Pettis to tap in the third and final round with an air-right rear-naked choke (see it here) after two rounds of back-and-forth action which earned both men "Fight of the Night" honors.

While the crushing loss may have took the wind out of Sergio's sails, it didn't knock his confidence, as the 20 year old revealed to UFC.com that he learned a lot from the defeat and cleaned up his mistakes by upping his fight IQ.

And the young striker is ready to show his improvements when he takes on Yaotzin Meza this weekend (June 7, 2014) at UFC Fight Night 42 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

His words:

"That fight taught me a lot. No one likes to lose, but as Duke (Roufus) always says, ‘Losing is like your medicine. Don't be bitter, get better.' I learned a lot in that fight. It was my first time in deep waters and I froze up and made a mistake. Caceres capitalized on it and that made me learn that I need to be more cautious. My fight IQ is much better and I'm ready to show my improvements in this next fight."

Despite being only 20 years old, Pettis is adamant he is maturing at a fast pace. And not just mentally, but physically, as well. And he intends to prove that he is no longer a boy when he takes on a man who is 13 years his elder.

His comments:

"I'm not a little boy anymore. My body is starting to look like a man and I'm starting to act and think like a man as well. This is my career and I'm fully invested in it in every way. My career is on the line in this fight and so is his. We are both coming off losses and we are going to see who wants it more. Meza is dangerous from everywhere. His stand-up is good and his ground game is legit. Obviously, he is going to try to take me down. He's not going to want to stand up with me. I'm more of an accomplished striker than he is. He is going to try to take me down and do what Caceres did to me. He's going to try to submit me because he watched my last fight and saw a flaw in my game. But I feel like I've improved a lot since then. I'm a lot better on the ground. My fight IQ is better and I feel a lot smarter going into this fight."

The bantamweight fight is scheduled to headline the preliminary card, which airs on FOX Sports 1.

Anyone think Sergio can get back on the winning track in "The Duke City" against the seasoned veteran?

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