There’s no crying in MMA.
Yeah, that saying is slightly amended from the classic 1992 sports film “A League of Their Own” in which manager Jimmy Dugan chastises a female baseball player, which results in her crying. Dugan (portrayed by Tom Hanks) then screams to the top of his lungs “there’s no crying in baseball!”
Former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis tends to agree with that movie because even though his promised title shot at the UFC lightweight belt has gone by the wayside, he’s not crying over spilt milk. Far from it actually.
Following his win over Ben Henderson at WEC 53 last December, Pettis was supposed to face the winner in the fight between UFC champion Frankie Edgar and challenger Gray Maynard. What resulted in their fight at UFC 125 was a draw, and then the pair were scheduled for a rematch on Memorial Day weekend, but that got scratched because both fighters got injured.
In the meantime, Pettis booked a fight against perennial top lightweight Clay Guida, and now UFC President Dana White has said because of timing it’s likely that the Milwaukee based fighter will end up competing at least one more time before he’d get a title shot.
Pettis isn’t mad. He’s not even a little bit upset.
“I don’t mind; tell Dana not to feel bad. I don’t really care,” Pettis told MMAWeekly Radio. “I’ll take another fight, I’ll take two fights if I have to, I really don’t mind. For me, it’s just I’m in the UFC, I’m young, and I’ve got a lot of talent so the sky is the limit. I’m going to get my title shot whether it’s this year or next year. I’m going to earn it.”
Earning it is something a great many UFC lightweights have questioned about Pettis getting a title shot in the first place. A list of names almost as long as the entire division have voiced their displeasure in Pettis getting a title shot offered to him before ever stepping foot in the Octagon.
Whether it was jealousy or not, Pettis isn’t sure why everyone was so upset at him for getting a title shot, but he’s happy to prove to each and every one of them why he should be considered a top contender.
“I’m like the most popular UFC fighter that ain’t fought in the UFC yet. I think for sure got some people envious and jealous of my position, but I worked to get where I’m at. I paid a lot of dues in this sport, and it shows in the fights,” Pettis stated.
“If people don’t believe now, give me time. I had to make my WEC debut and look where I got in two years. I’m making my UFC debut, give me some time, and I guarantee I’m going to turn all the people who don’t believe into believers.”
The first challenge is facing Clay Guida at this weekend’s “Ultimate Fighter” finale in Las Vegas. Guida is no rollover, as gritty a fighter as the lightweight division has ever seen.
That’s exactly why Pettis asked the UFC to give him Guida for his debut fight.
“I actually asked for that fight,” Pettis revealed. “I asked for the Guida fight just because of his style and his level of popularity and where he’s at in his career right now. He’s one of the top lightweights, and I could have took an easier fighter or a guy that’s not top ten, but I’m like I’m going to go for it. This is definitely a big test ahead of me.”
Guida is known for his intensity inside and outside the cage whenever he fights, and that’s exactly the type of challenge Pettis wants for his first time in the Octagon. Guida also brings an A-level wrestling game to the table, and that’s another challenge the last ever WEC champion wants to deal with.
For his camp, Pettis worked his wrestling quite a bit and even trained with Bellator champion and former Olympian Ben Askren to prepare for Guida. He says if Guida believes he’s going to just outwrestle him en route to a decision win, he’s got another thing coming.
“You’re going to see the strongest and most skilled Anthony Pettis ever. My wrestling is ten times the level it was in the Ben Henderson fight, so if Clay thinks he’s going to come in there and take me down at will, he’s going to have a long night,” Pettis stated.
What Pettis wants people to most understand about him as he goes into his first fight in the UFC and beyond is that he’s willing to work for and earn everything he gets.
If someone feels he got handed a title shot too early, Pettis is willing to fight for it.
If someone thinks he’s just a highlight reel kick that made SportsCenter, Pettis is ready to prove he’s not a one-trick pony.
“I don’t want to be remembered just for the kick. I have a long career ahead of me, and I think I’m going to have a lot more moments like that in my career.”
Damon Martin is the lead staff writer and radio host for MMAWeekly.com.
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