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Preview: UFC Vegas 17 could mark the final UFC fight for Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis

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UFC Fight Night: Pettis v Alvarez Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Wednesday marked the 10-year anniversary of the “Showtime Kick,” a stunning, cage-jumping knockdown of fellow lightweight sensation Ben Henderson. It was also the final bout for both Pettis and Henderson after ZUFFA purchased World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and merged its divisions with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Pettis, just 23 at the time of his Octagon debut, would get dumped and humped by Clay Guida in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13 Finale, the same card that featured the debut of lightweight phenom and future interim titleholder Tony Ferguson.

In the years that followed, “Showtime” racked up five straight wins, including his UFC 164 rematch against Henderson that ended with UFC gold. After a successful title defense against Strikeforce import Gilbert Melendez, things went downhill — fast.

What followed was a 5-8 record that saw Pettis finished four times across three different weight classes. Not exactly the kind of numbers anyone wants to carry into contract negotiations and the former Wheaties frontman is on the last fight of his current deal.

But don’t expect “Showtime” to lose any sleep over getting released.

“I’m not worried about that,” Pettis told MMA Junkie. “I feel like whatever’s supposed to happen as far as where I’m going next or if I’m fighting in the UFC again or if I can make another title run, my performance on Saturday will dictate that,” Pettis said. “It’s not something I can control. I can’t go in there and meet with guys and say, ‘I’m going to do this.’ My performances are going to dictate what happens next.”

Pettis, 33, will look to build on his unanimous decision victory over fellow WEC import Donald Cerrone when he tangles with welterweight bruiser Alex Morono (18-6, 1 NC) at the UFC Vegas 17 event this Sat. night (Dec. 19, 2020) inside APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. “The Great White” is an 11-fight UFC veteran who captured four of his last five.

“I’ve been fighting for my job when I had a three-loss losing streak from Rafael dos Anjos to Eddie Alvarez to Edson Barboza,” Pettis continued. “I’ve been on the chopping block for a long time where if I let that mindset play in, there’s no coming back from that because that’s what you focused on. It’s a blessing for me to have this mindset right now with all the news about cuts and going to different promotions. I don’t feel pressure for that right now.”

UFC has not been shy about been releasing former champions and top contenders, like Anderson Silva and Yoel Romero, just to name a few. A loss for Pettis this weekend in “Sin City” could be the last time we see “Showtime” inside the Octagon, though I would not expect him to stay unemployed very long.

Goodbye UFC ... hello Bellator?