As if new UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis‘ UFC 164 win wasn’t emotional enough, the fighter took to Instagram after the event to share a photo that will tug at your heart strings.
Pettis (17-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC), who upset long-reigning titleholder Benson Henderson (19-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC) at Saturday’s pay-per-view in his hometown of Milwaukee, left the city’s Bradley Center soon after the fight and ventured to the grave of his father, Eugene, who died in 2003 when Pettis was just 16 years old.
We detailed his death back in 2009 as one of our first-ever “Fight Path” columns. At the time, Pettis was a largely unknown prospect who was still cutting his teeth in the WEC, but even back then, everyone around him suggested the fighter was destined for big things.
After police detectives awoke Pettis – eventually showing him a photo of their dead father – they told the fighter he had killed by a would-be robber at a friend’s home. While Pettis and his family, including younger brother and fellow MMA fighter Sergio Pettis, considered leaving the city, they ultimately thought better of it. According to Pettis, he didn’t want to leave his dad.
So after winning the title and claiming No. 1 status in one of MMA’s deepest divisions, Pettis paid him a visit.
“We came close to moving when my father passed,” Pettis said in 2009. “When I drive past the place, I remember what happened, but my dad is buried here, and I would like to stay where my dad is. I have a huge family, and most of them live here. My gym is here. I want to build a good life here.”
For complete coverage of UFC 164, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
(Touch of gloves: r/MMA)