Milwaukee's Sergio Pettis Looks to Blaze His Own Trail and Fight His Way Into the UFC Flyweight Division
Sergio Pettis isn’t your average 18 year old. At an age when many of his counterparts are primarily focused on partying or chasing girls, “The Phenom” is solely concerned on becoming the world’s greatest mixed martial artist.
Possessing world-class potential and a surname that makes even the most casual fan give a second glance, Pettis is in a position that very few fighters have ever before been. Fair or not, members of the fight community have already placed an enormous amount of pressure on Pettis after declaring him the sport’s next big thing.
But with plenty of support from his family, teammates, and coaching staff the dynamic fighter finds himself just days away from yet another opportunity to step into the cage and prove that all of the hype surrounding him is warranted.
Set to return to the cage on Friday, May 4, in his hometown of Milwaukee at North American Fighting Championship “Colosseum” against Chris Haney, Pettis is already beginning to make the sacrifices needed to someday reach the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
After starting his career with three straight finishes, Wisconsin’s reigning Rookie of the Year made the decision to drop from bantamweight to flyweight. And as one would guess, the recent unveiling of the 125-pound division within the UFC was the primary reason.
“This is one of the best training camps I’ve ever had but the only thing killing me is the weight cut,” Pettis told US Combat Sports reporter Paul Fladten. “135 was a lot easier and I’m definitely not as strong as before, but with the division opening up in the UFC me and Duke made the decision to make the cut and find a quicker route into the big show. Hopefully it plays out pretty good.”
Despite the fact that an injury has kept his older brother Anthony Pettis outside of the cage during practice, “The Phenom” credits teammates such as Erik Koch, Alan Belcher, Pascal Krauss, Elias Garcia, and Dustin Ortiz for preparing him for Friday’s fight.
Also on top of Pettis’ list of whom to give credit is longtime coach Duke Roufus. Having faced a similar situation of being the younger brother of a well-known fighter himself, Roufus understands how to keep Sergio focused on becoming an individual rather than always trying to live up to the pressure of being the younger brother of “Showtime”.
“Duke had the same type of pressure with his brother when everyone thought he was going to be just like his older brother, but we’re all different fighters and we all have our own set of skills. Anthony is a flashy fighter and he loves to put on a show, and I can do that as well, but I’m more of a conservative fighter.
It’s a lot of pressure to deal with because people are always expecting me to jump off cages and whatever, but I’m just learning to deal with it and become my own fighter. A lot of times Duke has to remind that I’m only 18, I’m still young, and I don’t need to become a Showtime Junior.”
In a sport in which the media flocks to a young star with a familiar last name like a moth to a flame, Pettis understands that some critics believe the amount of attention he has received at the early stages of his career are unjust. But he only wishes that those people could see the amount of work that he has put in to reach this point.
“A lot of people see me as just living and growing in my brother’s shadow and they think I have an easier way of getting into the UFC because of my brother. And in a way it’s kind of true because my name is out there more, but I’m putting in all the hard work and I’m the one training. I’m still killing myself everyday to be a good fighter and I’m going to make it into the UFC on my own set of skills.”
With his next opponent right around the corner Pettis has a chance to remain undefeated and keep his title as the flyweight division’s next big prospect. And while he is anxious to earn a trip into the UFC sooner rather than later, “The Phenom” is just fine honing his craft and developing a set of skills that he hopes will one day be similar to another of the sport’s most complete packages.
“I’m really confident fighting at 125 and hopefully I can get into the UFC if I do what I do. But right now I’m taking it slow. I’m still young so hopefully I can get better and better so when I make it to the UFC I can look like the Jon Jones of my division.”