As he looks to get off his current two-fight losing skid, former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis is impressing those around him. Pettis is scheduled to fight Donald Cerrone in the featured prelim at UFC 249 which is scheduled for May 9 on ESPN and ESPN+ PPV.
Coming off back-to-back losses against Diego Ferreira and Nate Diaz, Pettis has shown signs of his old self according to those around him. In a recent interview with MMA Tonight on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation, Pettis’ head coach Duke Roufus said although this is a rematch that Pettis won the first time, there is a new opportunity for Pettis to shine under the circumstances.
“At this point, one, he’s just excited to be in the opportunity” Roufus said or Pettis. “I think this fight is very unique, it’s the only sporting event going on ESPN, the spot that Donald and Anthony are in [featured prelim], I think the most eyes in the sporting world are going to be on those two because it’s the last fight on ESPN before we go into the pay-per-view. The motivation is different than a rematch if you will, this is a huge opportunity for Anthony to capitalize on his brand if he has a great performance. We’re not even thinking about the last fight, we’re thinking about this fight and what we can do.”
Not only will Pettis and Cerrone be meeting under different circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic and this event being closed off to fans, but also the fact that this is a rematch and there is a friendship between the two. Even though they’re friends and have respect for each other, Roufus told MMA Tonight he’s seen great things from Pettis.
“It’s a unique situation because they’ve trained together, they’re buddies. Cowboy even jokingly texted him [Pettis] ‘Hey can we meet at 185?’ It’s kind of a Mickey Ward-Arturo Gatti type relationship the two have, where they’re cool but they’re going to beat the crap out of each other. I’m seeing the best Anthony Pettis that I’ve seen in a while.”
Despite the good friendship the two have, Roufus says once Pettis arrives for the fight, it’ll be all business.
“I think once we get there, Anthony’s going to be the professional that he is and it’s not going to be that friendly,” he said. “He’s not going to be rude, he’s not going to make an ass of himself, but he’s going to be there all business. I know Cowboy likes that but how we beat Cowboy the first time, I kind of studied Cowboy’s psychology too. He’s a great fighter, all of these fighters are great, they all have different unique strengths and weaknesses and understanding the psychological warfare of it all too, is an interesting part too.”
Heading into UFC 249, Duke Roufus knows that both Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone have a lot on the line with a big opportunity ahead of them, and even though they’re friends, it’s all business once fight time arrives.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 4/30/2020.