Former WEC and UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis has explained his decision to sign with the Professional Fighters League (PFL).
Pettis last fought at UFC Vegas 17 last weekend, where he picked up a unanimous decision win over Alex Morono at welterweight. That victory marked the final obligation on the former champion’s latest UFC contract.
Rather than negotiating a new deal with the promotion, he elected to sign with the PFL, an organization that presents MMA in a unique, seasonal format and awards its champions million-dollar prizes at the conclusion of each year.
Speaking to SCMP MMA, Pettis explained why he signed chose the PFL as the setting for the next chapter of his career.
“Honestly, I knew what I was looking for,” Pettis said. “My goal right now at this stage of my career to become a champ.. I’m still young in this game, I’m back motivated and hungry to become a champion and the deal the PFL offered me was very, very fair. And the opportunity to become a champion in 12 months, that’s exactly what I was looking for.
“If I went to another organization, I would’ve had to fight my way up,” Pettis added. “I’m not saying it couldn’t be done, but I love the format these guys put out. Also they’re on ESPN, so it doesn’t change my audience, they can see my fights the exact same way, it just really made sense.”
Pettis was also reluctant to enter into a prolonged contract negotiation with the UFC, and wanted to end his time with the promotion on a high note—particularly after watching former UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva get released by the UFC after a string of losses.
“It was up to me, like, do I want to go into contract battles?” Pettis said. “Where I’m at in my career, let’s try something new, a totally different concept, I believe in it.
“Not trying to make this sound bad, but Anderson Silva, one of my idols, to see how he ended in the UFC, I’m like, you know I think it’s time for me to make a change and get that fire ignited again, and find some new goals and some new competition. And it was just perfect timing with my contract ending.”
Anthony Pettis will compete in the PFL’s 2021 lightweight season, which will kick off in April. While his debut with the promotion is still some distance away, he’s very excited to begin this new saga.
“Today is one of the best days in my life,” Pettis said. “Signing a new deal, thinking about the future with no animosity or regrets for the past, but a brand new start in a new organization. I’m gonna be kinda the face of this thing, I like to think that I’m one of the biggest names signed with the PFL.
“I get to carry that flag,” Pettis added. “I ended in WEC with the showtime kick, I jumped into UFC, carried that WEC flag, now the PFL is kinda counting on me to make this thing go more mainstream and bigger than it already is.
“They have some great deals with ESPN, Rory MacDonald is over there, Fabricio Werdum just signed, they’ve got some talent coming over but I feel I’m gonna carry that flag and bring this organization to a whole new level.”
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