Anthony Pettis says signing with PFL hinged on “partnership” with promotion.
FanSided MMA sat down with former UFC champion Anthony Pettis shortly after news of his signing with the Professional Fighters League (PFL) and he reflected on his decision to leave the UFC after so such a long career.
A transcript of the interview, along with the video can be seen below.
Obviously, everyone wants to know how the deal with PFL came about and what enticed you to sign with them after so long with the UFC?
“The biggest thing was 2020 [was] a crazy year for everybody. In January I was coming off a loss and then the coronavirus hit in March, it was kind of a crazy year for me. My businesses weren’t doing well because obviously everybody had to shut down due to the coronavirus. I was coming off of a loss it was a scary time in my life so I was making a decision on slowing it down a little bit. In my UFC career, I was always trying to get the next big fight or a title shot. I was always thinking how do I get myself up for these fights. 2020 really taught me how to settle down and take these fights one fight at a time one step at a time. I’m going into May when I fought Cowboy I had one fight left on the UFC contract and seeing my little brother go over to Bellator, seeing how he was treated, seeing how happy he was going over to Bellator kinda just made me feel like it was my time to explore free agency and see what else was out there. The PFL deal happened really quick they came with a great offer that I thought was very fair and the way they approached me was a partnership and not like me working for them. They were asking the right questions with the right answers and the format that it gives me because I think in my UFC career I was taking a lot of last-minute fights. I was always ready, I was always in shape but it’s a tough job I wouldn’t want to change it for anything but I was taking these fights on two or three weeks notice, cutting 20 pounds, down to 145 back up to 170, it’s a crazy world to live in honestly. Do you have to be ready for anything, opportunities can pop up just like that, especially last year. Now as in this format I know exactly when I am fighting, I have a season ahead of me, I know what weight class I have to be at, I know what weight I have to be at for the whole year. I’ll have more structure to my life honestly.”
With PFL you’re going to know the path to a title and when you’ll be fighting, how will that change how you live your life from day-to-day?
“I’m not one fight away from jumping into a training camp. That’s how it literally is. It’s like this guy got hurt, this guy got COVID, are you willing to jump in and get into these fights. Where it’s now I kind of know my set event date. I don’t know exact dates but I know around the time we will be fighting. I know when I have to cut the weight, I know when I have to be there and I just kinda have to perform. There’s a lot that goes around the UFC like I said last minute opportunity is that I was taking. I was taking all of them. I was taking big names, I was taking the big fights, cutting the big weight. I had a great time doing it but at this point in my career, where I’m at now the structure is what I’m looking for. I can become a champion in one year. It’s 12 months, it’s a real season. I feel the way they approached me, like I said, as a partnership was a big thing for me.”
I hate to say retirement, but you mentioned your management team. Is this a way for you to set up your life after fighting ends?
“I’ve always done that. I started my business’ as a young kid. At 16 years old I had my first martial arts gym. I pulled away from that, now I am getting back into having my own gyms, my barbershops, my other businesses that I have besides my martial arts career. I feel at this stage in my career I am looking for structure and opportunity and me fighting my contract that was huge. The opportunity to be the face of this company, to be the face of this organization and be treated as a partner and not an employee that was the opportunity I was looking for. I had to obviously fight my contract out for that to come. It was a scary thing to do to put yourself in a position where your value is only as much as your last fight. We know this in MMA. It was a wild 2020 for me man, but I got through it, I feel good and comfortable about where I’m sitting at. I know when my fights are and it feels good to have that structure.“
Your signing with PFL came very quickly, were you open to other offers?
“I was honestly open to any organization. I was going to wait and see what came about but when PFL came and the way they spoke and the way they handled it, the opportunity they gave me I thought it was very fair. There really was no reason to go back-and-forth with other companies. I wanted to start this year with something set in stone and I’m really quick. I was actually grateful for that to happen because now I feel like I’m in a comfortable spot where I can focus on what really matters, winning fights.”
Is there a particular opponent you are looking forward to in PFL?
“No, not really, I think the tournament structure is definitely different for me. The way you have to fight if you win in the first round you get points, and based on your points is where you’re placing is in the final and playoffs. That’s something new for me, something that I have to address with my team. I never really look at, even when I was in the UFC, I never really looked at divisions and kind of finding ways you know like who is the next big name. There is a champion two years in a row so that is my work cut out for me right there.”
Looking back at your long UFC career, what memory will you carry with you as a defining moment of your career?
“My best moment was winning the UFC championship in my hometown. Going to the Bradley Center that is gone now, they redid the whole thing. As a kid, I went to the Bradley Center, and I even said it during the fight as a kid I used to sit up in the nosebleeds seats. See my name in the lights, and to see my whole city come out, and to win the fight in the first round, flawless victory. That’s something that I will always remember and cherish.”
Pettis will make his PFL during the 2021 season which has yet to be announced.