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Sergio Pettis reacts to ‘perfect’ KO finish at Bellator 272: ‘It just makes me want to work harder’

Bellator 238 Julia Budd v Cris Cyborg Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Sergio Pettis captured the biggest win of his MMA career last night (Fri., Dec. 3, 2021) at Bellator 272 live on Showtime from inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., when the Bellator MMA bantamweight champion finished RIZIN standout Kyoji Horiguchi with an insane comeback knockout in the main event.

Pettis, who was making his first bantamweight title defense after winning the belt over Juan Archuleta this past May, was getting beaten up over the course of the first four rounds. Horiguchi was in control of the fight and seemed to be cruising to a successful return to the Bellator cage. Pettis was bloodied and didn’t have an answer for much of anything.

Fortunately for Pettis, MMA is a game of seconds and he ended up catching Horiguchi with a monstrous spinning backfist deep into Round 4 and knocked the former UFC title challenger out cold. It was one of the most spectacular finishes of 2021 and the biggest moment in the career of Pettis.

“I’m beat up right now,” Pettis told reporters during the Bellator 272 post-fight press conference (h/t MMA Fighting). “The first one through four rounds, he was getting me. He was getting me frustrated. He got me with some interesting movements, some in-and-out plays, and I had to face a lot of adversity tonight to get that finish. And it was perfect. It was beautiful.

“I’ve only got, what, this is like my fourth or fifth knockout ever of my career? So this is 27 fights in and to see this stuff finally happening, it’s beautiful, man.”

Pettis, 28, is now 4-0 since making the transition from UFC to Bellator back in 2020, but the bantamweight champion captured his first knockout win in over eight years Friday night. It wasn’t a finish that Pettis was expecting to produce and he had to hold himself back when Horiguchi hit the ground.

“Once that went down, I wanted to hit him with one more shot — and I realized, oh, he’s really out,” Pettis said. “But it was just my coach [Scott] Cushman too, he was telling me to jab, jab away, and every time he’s getting thrown at, he’s giving a reaction. And I think rounds one through four is what got him comfortable exiting without really defending himself. So I threw that kick, missed, and his exit allowed me to hit that spinning back fist.

“One thing that I lacked for awhile is the belief in myself, and I felt like if I had that trait still tonight, that I wouldn’t have gotten that job done in the fourth or fifth round. I was mentally kind of frustrated out there, but I never allowed it to destroy my positivity out there as well. I knew that I could do something great, and I had two rounds to accomplish that.”

Despite producing one of the best finishes of the year and sparking a craze on social media Pettis wasn’t too happy with the way the fight ended. Sure he got the win and retained his Bellator bantamweight title, but Pettis wasn’t aiming to leave Horiguchi motionless on the canvas.

“It’s not something I want to do,” Pettis said. “I don’t want to hurt anybody so bad that they’re unconscious like that or have damage later on in their life. So it definitely, it’s part of the job unfortunately, but it is what it is. At the end of the day, it’s kind of bogus to say, but it’s better him than me, so that’s how I’ve got to be when I’m out here. I’m very nice person and kind human being, but he would’ve done the same to me.”

“Honestly, it just makes me want to work harder,” Pettis added. “I got dominated the first four rounds. I got some stuff that I need to work on, and I definitely got an awesome knockout, but there’s some stuff that I need to for my career for longevity, and that’s what I’m here for. I’ve hopefully got another eight to 10 years in me.”

Considering Horiguchi was handily winning the main event fight prior to Pettis’ insane knockout finish there’s a chance Bellator decides to book a rematch right away. They could also decide to give Pettis another challenger and test the champ’s resolve against someone new, but that’s up in the air heading into the new year.

“I’m not here to pick anyone, man,” Pettis said. “I’m going to let them pick my opponent for me. I’m not the boss of that. They’ll tell me who I fight and I’ll never say no to a fight.”

For complete Bellator 272 results and coverage click here.