Bellator 238: “Budd vs. Cyborg” takes place Sat., Jan. 25, 2020 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. airing exclusively on DAZN. A Featherweight world title match sees “The Jewel” Julia Budd (13-2), undefeated in 11 straight fights and the reigning Bellator champion, take on legendarily hard hitting striker Cris Cyborg (21-2, 1 NC) in the main event.
The show will also feature the promotional debuts of Sergio Pettis (18-5) and “The Fearless” Alfred Khashakyan (11-4). The latter is on an impressive run of three straight first round KO wins, although that comes after a similar defeat at the hands of Sean O’Malley in his one shot at a UFC contract on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
Meanwhile Pettis comes in fresh off a UFC contract and a win over veteran fighter Tyson Nam. The younger brother of former WEC and UFC Lightweight champion “Showtime” Anthony Pettis, the signing brings both a familiar name and the potential future of the Bantamweight division to the bright lights of The Forum.
Today Sergio Pettis talks to MMA Mania about making the most of this new opportunity on one of Bellator MMA’s signature “tent pole” events and how he joined the promotion.
“So I took my last fight in UFC (with Tyson Nam). They scheduled another fight for me and I didn’t realize we were out of contract until my manager said so. You know we played the free agent field for a little bit. I was a little nervous, a little scared at the time — it was my first time doing something like that. Bellator presented a beautiful opportunity for me man and I couldn’t say no.”
Playing the field obviously paid off for Pettis, but it’s surprising UFC didn’t try to match the offer given he just came off a dominant win — surprising to everyone but Pettis that is.
“I think that’s just how things work. I’m not the biggest name (that was) over there so it’s all good. I’ve spent my time there, six years, and now it’s time to move on and figure out what’s next for me. As long as I get to compete at a high level, I’m a mixed martial artist — that’s what I am — so any opportunity that presented itself and was a good platform I’m very grateful for.”
Even though Pettis is trying to be humble and low key, his brother is a MMA legend and given he’s six years younger than “Showtime” he’s probably nowhere near his peak yet.
“I’m definitely gonna go out there and show out man. I’m gonna go out there and do what I do best. I’m just excited. It’s my first time fighting in California, first time fighting at The Forum, also I get to share a card with Raymond Daniels — a guy who I’ve been looking up to since I was a young kid watching him point spar. I’m very excited for this opportunity.”
“The Real Deal” is not a fighter to be missed but neither it seems is Pettis’ opponent Alfred Khashakyan, looking to pick up a fourth straight knockout in what is his Bellator debut too.
“I feel like he’s going to go out there and put the pace on me, you know, try to overwhelm me. He’s a little bit older than me and a little bit bigger than me, so I think he’s gonna try to go out there and make a name for himself. It’s definitely an opportunity for him as well.”
Khashakyan is indeed older (31) and taller (5’8”) than Pettis, but the Pettis brothers are accustomed to fighting guys bigger than them and still finding ways to win.
“It’s interesting man. It’s gonna be an interesting fight. I love when people get in my face and try to fight me. It brings out the best in me. I’m definitely going to put on a big show for Bellator.”
Khashakyan may even have home field advantage given he’s from Glendale, California only 41 miles away. Sergio Pettis says you can stack the deck in his favor as much as you want.
“Yeah yeah he’s based out in Cali so I’m sure that’s his home town, I’m sure he’s excited to try to go get his hand raised in front of everyone. I’ve fought in my home town too so I know he’s got some added pressure on him, so I’m excited.”
What does being in such a position say about Pettis potentially getting a world title shot in the near future in Bellator?
“I’m not big on trying to predict the future or guess on the future. I’m very ‘at present’ and right now all I’m focused on is Alfred. Once I get past him everything else will play out but as of right now I’m trying to get my hand raised on Saturday.”
Title shots may or may not come, but if they do get presented to Pettis they’ll definitely be at 135. He’s not going to miss making the cut to be in UFC’s Flyweight division.
“I feel like the older I’m getting, the more my body’s putting size on, becoming more of a man. (1)25 weight cut wasn’t hard, but I’m a very strict athlete when I have a set goal, I’m going to get to it. I never missed weight at 125, but I started off my career at 155. I fought in the UFC a couple times at 155, made the transition down, got some experience, got some confidence, and I’m excited to go back up man. It’s a lot easier on my body to not have to put it through that much of a weight cut.”
Sergio Pettis looks forward to fighting at a healthy weight and putting on a strong performance for the fans on January 25 at Bellator 238.
Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of Bellator 238: “Budd vs. Cyborg” resides here at MMA Mania all week long.