Things have not gone well for Anthony Pettis lately. The former UFC lightweight champion is no longer in the thick of things at 155 pounds after losing four out of his last five fights, which includes a quick layover at featherweight. Luckily, “Showtime” can still turn it around tomorrow night (Sat., July 8, 2017) at UFC 213 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, when he takes on lightweight veteran Jim Miller. But in order to do so, Pettis will have to rely on the recent changes made to his game.
“I honestly went away from the wrestling,” Pettis told MMAjunkie earlier this week. “I just went and focused on what I was good at: striking. A lot of striking this camp. A lot of jiu-jitsu. I think the wrestling is always there. But I’d just put that in my head, that I had to get better at it, to get better at it.
“I was just too focused on wrestling, and that took away from all the other parts of my game.”
Pettis, 30, was once revered as one of the most talented champions in MMA. He took the UFC lightweight division by storm from 2012-2014 by finishing Joe Lauzon, Donald Cerrone, Ben Henderson, and Gilbert Melendez in succession, including two successful title fights. While Pettis would love to steal that momentum back at UFC 213 and reenter the title picture at 155 pounds, attracting interest from fight fans is the only thing that matters.
“I think with (lightweight champ) Conor McGregor doing the Floyd Mayweather fight, it kind of throws the division up,” Pettis said. “So there’s room for guys to change that landscape. But, at this point around, this is my first fight back at 155. I’ve just got to go make a statement. (I’ve) got to make people want to watch me fight again.”
If Pettis can get past Miller in devastating fashion this weekend, he could be on the fast track to a comeback. But if the former lightweight king can’t find his footing in a division he once ruled, there’s no telling how far Pettis will fall down the MMA rabbit hole.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 213 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.