Lightweight Anthony Pettis garnered national attention in late 2010 after landing one of the most amazing strikes in MMA history, springing off the cage in the fifth round of a close title-fight to drop opponent Benson Henderson with a move labeled as the “Showtime Kick”. However, in his follow-up fight against Clay Guida he was never given enough breathing room to work on his feet, while his most recent outing involved a surprising amount of takedown attempts by the heavy-handed Jeremy Stephens leading to yet another bout with Pettis failing to feature his stand-up prowess.
Though the 14-2 Pettis faces a grappler this weekend at UFC 144 in the form of Joe Lauzon, the 25-year old is planning to avoid the slowed-down pace from his previous outings by taking the attack to the Massachusetts native.
“Coming off of a win you have better mental preparation going into a fight,” began Pettis on his upcoming bout when asked in an interview with the UFC’s website. “You’re not doubting yourself, you’re not thinking about your last loss. I’m coming off of a win, so I’m better mentally. I know that I can go out there and do what I usually do. I can’t go out there and play it safe. I need to go out there and bring the fight and break his will.”
Remarkably mature for his age, Pettis also understands doing so is easier said than done.
“He’s a very intelligent fighter and very dangerous. He’s got some good striking, he’s getting better all the time, he’s been around a long time, he’s got the experience factor on me, and he’s very good on the ground. He’s one of those fighters who is dangerous everywhere,” said Pettis of Lauzon. “I wanted someone of his caliber and of his skill set. He’s coming off a huge win against (Melvin) Guillard. He’s going to put me right back where I need to be. A win over Lauzon will be huge for my career.”
While Pettis didn’t so far as to say the victory will come as the result of his striking, the Roufusport product alluded to the possibility, explaining his comfort with a wide variety of rarely-seen techniques is akin to that of a boxer using basic combinations based on how long he’s been training them. He’s also quick to point out none of his success on that front comes without solid fundamentals to build on.
“When someone is getting ready to fight me as an opponent, they definitely have to bring in some sparring partners who throw crazy moves. But the thing is I have very good basics, which allow me to go out there and throw spin kicks,” said Pettis. “I don’t just go out there and throw spin kicks and spin kicks and spin kicks. I set them up with a 1-2 and a low kick, mixing in with a high kick, and I’ll see the opening and then I’ll go for it. The kicks that people have seen in the WEC are kicks that I’ve done my whole life – the spin kicks, the Capoeira kicks – that all comes second nature.”
Pettis-Lauzon will be part of an epic seven-fight main card at UFC 144. The show is headlined by Frankie Edgar putting his lightweight gold up for grabs against Henderson with another featured bout between Quinton Jackson-Ryan Bader in co-headlining action.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC