Look up “confidence” in the dictionary and you’re likely to find a picture of Anthony Pettis next to it.
The WEC lightweight exudes a swagger that shouldn’t be taken for arrogance, but rather, the result of hard work in the gym and results in the cage.
At Monday’s open workout for WEC 50, Pettis (11-1, 3-1 WEC) sparred and showed off his ever improving ground game for members of the media. Pettis embraces the media attention coming his way, handling the bright lights with the poise usually seen in seasoned fighters.
“I actually like it,” the 23-year-old said of the press. “The camera is in your face, you train hard, you push yourself more. It’s a positive for me. The attention comes along with the sport”
The attention Pettis garners is well earned. Of his 11 victories, just one has been decided decision. He boasts five finishes by submission and five by (T)KO. With credentials like that, it’s no surprise that Pettis speaks highly of himself. He faces Shane Roller at today’s WEC 50, and though he concedes that the former Division 1 wrestler is tough, he expects to come out with the win.
“Shane Roller’s a tough dude,” Pettis said. “He’s coming off some impressive wins so his confidence is up, he’s a D1 wrestler. But I’ve put in the preparation necessary to beat this guy.”
Pettis acknowledges that Roller poses some unique threats with the wrestling background—but going the distance isn’t something the Milwaukee native is banking on when the bell sounds.
“The concern fighting [Roller] is him taking me down and trying to grind me out, getting the judges’ scorecards and getting a split decision or a decision over me,” Pettis said before adding, “fortunately for me, this is an MMA fight, not wrestling.”
And Pettis has certainly brought some attention to himself in MMA fights. A highlight reel finish over Danny Castillo at WEC 47 significantly raised the Duke Roofus protégé’s profile. Midway through the first round, Pettis blasted the Team Alpha Male fighter with a brutal head kick that was the beginning of the end. The win earned Pettis a Knockout of the Night bonus, his first in the promotion.
An equally impressive submission victory one month later against Alex Karalexis at WEC 48 followed the knockout win. In less thansixty days, Pettis brought himself from promising prospect to contender.
The current streak brings Pettis face to face with Roller in the night’s co-main event with the victor likely earning a title shot against current champion Ben Henderson. To emerge with his hand raised, don’t expect Pettis to start tailoring his game plans to fit Roller’s style.
“My game plan is to be a better fighter than him, all around. I’m going to be a better fighter and beat him to every position. Shane’s a really good wrestler and everybody knows it.”
When the talk of titles comes up, the confident Pettis emerges again. Without looking past Roller, he states in no uncertain terms that a title shot is in order for the winner.
“It makes sense,” Pettis says of a shot at the gold for the victor. “A win against me, or me beating him, it makes sense for the winner to get a title shot.”
If previous performances are any indication, Pettis will wreak havoc over the 155-pound division for years to come.
“My age is young, but my skill level is deserving of a title shot,” he said, once again stating his case for the number one spot.
“Wednesday night I’m going to prove it.”