Sergio Pettis: It's my time to shine
A quick glance at this Friday's Resurrection Fighting Alliance 4 lineup reveals one of the more outstanding cards of 2012. Arguably measuring up to many of the year's Strikeforce events and outshining some Bellator cards, RFA looks to be well on its way towards breaking into the upper echelon of fight promotions.
Featuring a roster full of Ultimate Fighting Championship veterans, including a main event that pits Efrain Escudero against Tyson Griffin, Greg Shea and company have proven their willingness to shell out the cash necessary to sign big name free agents. But it's the RFA's crop of young superstars that is most impressive.
A host of prospective superstars such as Chidi Njokuani, Guilherme Trindade, and Steven Mocco line Friday's show, but in terms of all-around talent one is hard-pressed to find a stronger matchup than Sergio Pettis versus Jimmy Jones.
Known as "The Phenom", Pettis has exceeded the hype since making his professional debut just over a year ago. Amassing an undefeated record of 5-0 before hitting the age of 19, the Roufusport bantamweight has looked extremely advanced for his age earning stoppages in each of his 135-pound contests.
Having been involved in the sport since the age of 14 alongside his older brother and UFC title contender Anthony Pettis, Sergio has shown the ability to quickly adapt all aspects of the fight game and correctly utilize them inside the cage. His coach Duke Roufus recently referred to him as "a new Mac computer" for his aptitude towards understanding the sport.
"Being around the sport for so long and coming up with it I know all the techniques," Pettis told USCS Reporter Paul Fladten. "If Duke is teaching me something different or something for the game plan I just put mind on it and stick to it. Everything Duke says works. He's the master so when he gives me a plan I follow it."
Pettis' most recent game plan worked to perfection in June when he filled in for teammate and UFC-veteran Chico Camus against Tom McKenna at Legends of Fighting Championship 53. Pettis bullied his older opponent around the cage for three minutes before sinking in a fight-ending guillotine and earning his fifth straight victory to open his career.
With the win Pettis earned an invitation into the Tachi Palace Fights organization. However, his management didn't agree with some of the decisions made by the California promotion and instead decided to sign a five-fight deal with RFA.
"We decided not to go with Tachi and got a call from RFA and we decided to take it right away," said Pettis. "There's a lot of big names fighting for this organization and I feel blessed. RFA buying Titan was big, they're going to be on tv, and I just feel it's a great opportunity to get my name out there and get more exposure."
Showtime For "The Phenom"
The exposure will come this Friday against Jones on AXStv as the two young bantamweights are scheduled to kick off the televised portion of the card. Pettis said that he is extremely impressed with what he has seen from his Xtreme Couture opponent and is expecting a battle once the cage door is locked.
"This guy has a ton of talent, man. He's good all around and is a true mixed martial artist. His standup is really legit and he knows exactly what he's doing. He looks pretty aggressive, has a strong ground game, and is a great test for my career. I haven't fought anyone like this guy and he hasn't fought anyone like me."
While Jones may not yet have the same amount of buzz surrounding him as his opponent, a win would instantly change that. Holding a record of 4-1, and his only loss coming via split decision, "The Rabbit" is undoubtedly the biggest threat to Pettis' undefeated record to this point. But "The Phenom" believes his coaching staff has put together a game plan that should result in victory.
"Personally I think constantly going forward is going to give me my best shot. When he moves forward he gets really comfortable and that's when he gets off. So I have to shut down his jab and initial movements and then strike off that and keep putting constant pressure on him. I need to keep up the intensity or he'll put it on me."
While the sample size is still relatively small, the talent and potential of Pettis is undeniable. He has done everything asked out of him in the first year of his pro career and now looks to make a major statement in the first fight of year two. And this time he gets to do it in Las Vegas on national television.
"I'm very excited to fight in Vegas and that my fight will be the first on the main card and on television. It adds some pressure but I'm glad it adds pressure. At a young age my career is progressing more and more and this is my opportunity. It's my time to shine."