After winning the lightweight title in the last WEC event ever, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (20-6) has seen his ups and downs in the UFC. He claimed the UFC lightweight belt, defended it, went on a three-fight losing streak, dropped down to featherweight, and went back up to lightweight, all within four years. After picking apart Jim Miller for a decision victory at UFC 213, it seems as if the Anthony Pettis of old is finally back.
Pettis will face the eighth-ranked lightweight in the UFC, Dustin Poirier (21-5, 1 NC) on November 11. Poirier is hungry for a fight after a win over Jim Miller and an unfortunate no contest with Eddie Alvarez. Poirier was clearly the better fighter at UFC 211 before Eddie Alvarez landed illegal knees that were ruled to be unintentional. Poirier will look to use Anthony Pettis as redemption for a fight that he feels he was robbed of to climb the lightweight rankings.
A two promotion champion
Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, like many other lower weight fighters, made his name in the WEC. After gaining attention as the GFS champion in Wisconsin, Pettis was signed to the WEC and subsequently secured his first victory by triangle choke over Mike Campbell just 1:49 into his debut. He made quick work of the division before dethroning Benson Henderson as the king of the WEC lightweight division. Although this fight was a decision, it became famous for the “Showtime Kick” pulled off by Pettis in which he ran up the side of the cage and head kicked Henderson. Soon after the event, a merger with Zuffa would cause the UFC to absorb the WEC, leaving Pettis beltless once again.
Starting from scratch in the UFC, Pettis lost his first fight to Clay Guida before a winning streak over perennial contenders, Jeremy Stephens, Joe Lauzon, and Donald Cerrone. His impressive first-round knockouts of Lauzon and Cerrone earned him a title shot; once again against Benson Henderson. This time, Pettis finished Henderson in the first round with an armbar from the bottom. Anthony Pettis was given a chance to defend his belt for the first time in his career against Gilbert Melendez. Oddly enough, the knockout artist would score a second consecutive submission, this time by guillotine, to retain the belt he spent three years chasing.
Fall from grace and moving forward
When Anthony Pettis fell from his championship throne, he fell hard. His unanimous decision loss to Rafael dos Anjos was just the first of three consecutive defeats. He lost twice more to Eddie Alvarez and Edson Barboza, both by decision, before choosing to fight at featherweight. The cut to 145 pounds proved to be more difficult than Pettis had expected, but he still managed to make weight and snap his losing streak by submitting Charles Oliveira in his featherweight debut. After the victory, the fortunes of “Showtime” went south once again when he missed weight before what was supposed to be his chance for the featherweight interim belt. The 148 pound Pettis was knocked out in the third round. After admitting that the weight cut was too much for him to handle, Pettis moved back up to 155 where he earned a convincing win over Jim Miller.
When Anthony Pettis steps into the octagon on November 11, he might see five rounds of combat for the first time since RDA dismantled him in 2015. It will be interesting to see what will happen if the fight makes it to the championship rounds as Dustin Poirier has never seen the fourth round in his entire professional career. One thing we can count on is high level striking. Pettis, who is a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo will utilize kicks to the body to keep Poirier, and his fight stopping left hand out of striking distance. Pettis admitted that early in his career, he had relatively no ground game but has improved drastically in his wrestling and grappling. Both fighters, while know for their striking, are Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown-belts with impressive submissions on their record. The main event fight will most likely be contested primarily on the feet, but if it goes to the mat, it will be interesting to see who has the edge. If Anthony Pettis truly is back to the fighter we saw before UFC 185, and he gets past Poirier, he will find himself ranked in the top ten, looking for a path to the title once more.
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