Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis spoke to MMAFighting.com about his upcoming coaching stint on TUF 20 against Gilbert Melendez which will ultimately see the winner crowned as the UFC’s inaugural women’s strawweight champion.
“These girls, whoever wins the show is going to be the champion of their division, so to get to see that process happen in six weeks is very cool,” Pettis told MMAFighting.com a few days before TUF 20’s filming began. “It took me a long time to get to a title, and to know that I can help one of the have a chance to achieve their dreams, it’s a cool feeling.
“And the cool thing is I got to watch their fights from Invicta. Most seasons, you can’t really see who’s on the season, who they are. I’ve seen these girls fight before. One of these girls came from my team, Rose Namajunas. She trained on my team for a long time … so I’ve watched the division for her. I know a lot of these girls.”
It’s going to be a fun time,” Pettis said. “I’ve been coaching since I was 10. I opened up my first taekwondo school when I was 16, so I have a lot of experience teaching and I have a lot of experience coaching. Teaching the technique is easy. It’s relating to them on a personal level, having them feel comfortable taking advice from you, that’s the hard part; getting past the kickboxing, the wrestling, the jiu-jitsu. We’re all practicing the same stuff, but who has the best connection on that note, I think, is going to win the season.
“I don’t want to say who I’m picking,” continued Pettis, “Or who I’m thinking about, because if they’re not on my team, that doesn’t really look good on my end. But there are some girls that I know are very good. There’s some that stick out to me because they have more of my fighting style. Melendez is a wrestler, I’m a striker. Everybody knows that, so I think the girls are going to gravitate towards who they want to go against. If they’re a wrestler, they’re going to go on his team. If they’re a striker, they’re going to be on my team.”
[Melendez] is as tough as they come,” Pettis said. “I was in high school when he was fighting, so I was watching him a lot when I was in high school. I have a lot to look at, and just being a fan of the sport, I’ve watched him for a long time. Wrestling is obviously his strength. I wouldn’t say it’s the best wrestling in MMA, but he puts it together real well with the strikes and then his jiu-jitsu.”
It happens, it’s part of the sport,” Pettis said. “When you’re kicking and punching, your body is not made to do those kinds of things, so injuries are part of the sport. I knew that coming into the sport.
“My last fight was in August 31st, his (last) fight was September 18th. We both have the same amount of time off, so it doesn’t really affect me. Time away from the Octagon isn’t like crucial for me. I have 20 fights already. Nothing changes. It’s not like it’s going to be something different. It still means the same thing. If I lose, I lose my belt. If I win, I’m the champ.”