EXCLUSIVE | Sergio Pettis on RFA 8, ‘I Didn’t Think I Was Gonna Be Fighting, Honestly’
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
Before Sergio Pettis steps into the Resurrection Fighting Alliance cage Friday night to fight for the organization’s inaugural flyweight title, he spoke with BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio Sunday night.
Pettis, who is known to many fans as the younger brother of UFC phenom Anthony Pettis, is set to face Dillan Pegg, a fight that was put together only days ago when Pettis’ original opponent, Jeff Curran, was forced to pull from the fight for personal reasons. The last minute switch, although surely frustrating, will still allow the young Pettis an opportunity to once again show the MMA community his impressive abilities in the ring.
“For sure, just the game-plan changed a little bit. You know, I still got the takedown defense there. This guy, if he wants to stand with me, that’s perfectly fine with me- that’s where I’m comfortable, and that’s where I can finish this fight at… That’s what I was going to do for Curran too, you know, I was going to avoid the takedowns. I was gonna tag him and expose his stand up, you know, just stick to my bread and butter. I’m excited this guy’s going to want to stand and trade with me, it’s going to be an interesting fight. I don’t know exactly what he has to bring to the table, but I know that I’m going to be showcasing my moves. I’m gonna throw some flashy moves at him, try to finish this fight as soon as possible, get out and get some Oreos, man.”
That is not to say that the young Pettis is looking past Pegg.
“I’m not going to overlook this guy. Curran was a bigger name than him, but yeah, for sure, he’s crazy and he’s hungry, man. Sounds like me right now. For sure, he’s going to come at me strong, he’s gonna try to end the fight. I’m Anthony Pettis’ little brother, obviously that’s on his mind too. He beats me, he’s beating a bigger game. For sure, he’s going to come into this fight and try to finish me, but I’m not going to let that happen.”
For Pettis, this is not the first time his opponent has dropped out at the last minute. While the experience is always frustrating, Sergio explains that getting a replacement fight definitely beats the alternative.
“Yeah, man, it’s really frustrating. You know, you prepare for this certain guy, you’re working on a lot of stuff to defend. It sucks, it happened to me at the last RFA fight too, the guy got hurt. It was two weeks before the fight, his knee got hurt. Now, two weeks before the fight, Curran had an issue. I was just really frustrated. I didn’t think I was gonna be fighting, honestly. I didn’t think they were going to pull me a fight. I was just upset, I cut the weight, I’ve trained really hard for this, fighting for a title. I was killing it. When Curran stepped out, it was really upsetting for that day. I wanted to just go and eat some food and stuff, but they told me just to stay calm.
“Oh, man, if the fight would have been pulled, I would have been very upset. I went through two months of hell, training as hard as I could for this title fight, you know, training for Jeff. I’m just very fortunate that they found a fighter. I didn’t waste any time- I’m not saying training is a waste of time- but I put a lot of energy into this camp, and that would have sucked, not being able to fight in front of my hometown for a title.”
Now, thanks to the RFA and Dillan Pegg, Pettis will have that opportunity.
“Man it’s awesome! My family’s going to be there, my friends are going to be there. Big support for me. The whole crowd is going to be for me, so I’m really excited to perform in front of my home crowd again and get that title in front of them. You know, my brother just got the opportunity to do that for the other show, fight in front of the home crowd and get his title before he made it to the big show, so hopefully I get to do the same thing.”
Indeed, many fans see Sergio’s quick rise as a mirror of his older brother Anthony. The older Pettis has seen great success in the WEC and now in the UFC, where he has been knocking on the door to a title fight for some time. For Sergio, Anthony is more than just a brother and role model, he’s the perfect coach for dealing with the pressures that come with a successful career and increasing notoriety.
“Anthony is really high up in this sport right now,” Sergio explained. “He’s done everything, he’s trying to teach me what he’s done wrong and what he’s done right. I heard [Mike] Biggie [Rhodes] earlier on the show talking about Anthony knows a lot about the business side, the social media side; and that’s very true. Anthony knows a lot about it, and he helps me out with it. It is pretty easy, following him, because he has a structured plan for it, so it’s a pretty simple plan for me to follow, I just got to stick to it.”
And stick to it he has, as the two brothers are great role models for their own community. They run a Tae Kwon Do academy, an outlet Sergio says allows them to not only build martial artists, but to help troubled children and their parents.
“I’m starting to take on some of the business stuff, the business side of it. I’m also teaching Tae Kwon Do- I’m teaching kids that I grew up with, so it’s really awesome, seeing the kids develop and how they started similar to how I started and how they’re progressing, and how they’re going into kickboxing programs and MMA programs as they get older. So it’s really cool, man, something else to do, you know. Not only being a student, but teaching what I’ve learned and sharing it with others.
“It’s very important, man, because that’s what changed my life. Martial arts, for sure, changed my life. I don’t know where I’d be without it. Without my mom putting us in martial arts, we probably would have been some bad kids. We grew up in a bad neighborhood. Martial arts, it teaches you the respect, discipline, self-esteem, all the life goals- I think that’s really awesome, especially for kids nowadays, generations… it’s getting bad, people are acting up a lot more. I actually have a couple of students who were really bad in the beginning, and now they’re very, very mature for their age; they show confidence and respect to the gym, to people outside of the gym [like] their parents. So it’s crazy what martial arts can do for someone’s life.
“I do, I talk to the parents. We actually have little sheets to see how they’re doing outside of Tae Kwon Do, at school, how they’re doing at home. They’re improving very well. We had kids that would disrespect their parents, and now they’re answering up to their parents, like, ‘Yes, Ma’am,’ ‘Yes, Sir,’ how they do in class, it’s just awesome seeing the parents happy too. That’s awesome to see.”
For Sergio, teaching martial arts is something he will surely pursue when his mixed martial arts career comes to an end. Of course, that is still a long way away, as the younger Pettis is only 19 years old.
Naturally, any talk of the young fighter’s career inevitably turns to the question of when he will join the UFC flyweight ranks. Pettis is fairly certain he will stay with the RFA for a little while longer, but admits that he would jump on an opportunity to fight in the UFC in a heartbeat.
“When I was fighting Curran, that was definitely talked about, you know, if I win this fight maybe the UFC would give me a call. But Curran backed out, so I think I’m going to stay with the RFA for a couple more fights, defend the title. I’m perfectly fine with that. I like the RFA, they’re a great organization, there are a lot of great fighters in the RFA. I mean James Krause was from the RFA, just had a great performance [at UFC 161]. My time is gonna come sooner or later, I’m just staying patient. I’m still young. I keep forgetting how young I am, I just got to stick to my training and just get better… If the UFC called I would take it right away. I’m ready to fight anybody, I’m pretty confident in myself. I fought for the RFA for the first time, I fought Jimmy Jones, that was a tough fight for me, and that proved a lot to me. My last performance I did really well. I started to pick up, performing a lot better. I mean if you UFC would call, I would for sure go for that. Most likely I’m going to take the other route, the RFA, I’m going to be sticking with them. That’s going to make me that much better. Either way, it’s both positive.”
Sergio Pettis will take on Dillan Pegg Friday night at RFA 8 live from the Rave/Eagles Club in Milwaukee. You can watch all the action live on AXS TV starting at 7pm/10pm PT/ET.
Be sure to catch the entire episode of Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio right here.