In the fight game, it is all about ‘climbing the ladder’ through the ranks of the small shows scattered around the world to one of the big name promotions, where you begin to ‘climb the ladder’ yet again, all the way to a title shot.
Many times, we as fans do not get to learn the stories of that climb until these fighters make it to the top. We went out and found an up-and-coming fighter that was willing to open up about what it is like to rise through the ranks of the fight game.
That fighter is none other than the fast rising Flyweight Champion of the Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA), Sergio Pettis. Many of you already know Sergio is the little brother of current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Champion, Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis, and he is going to use his unique insight into his own rise through the ranks, to give you, the readers, an inside look at what it means to truly ‘climb the ladder.’ Here is the first edition of Sit Down With Sergio.
Pettis is a 20 year old striker who’s on a mission to blaze his own path to the UFC as fast as possible. After winning the inaugural RFA Flyweight title on June 21st against Dillard Pegg, Pettis is now slated to face off against James Porter for the NAFC Bantamweight Title on Saturday, September 28th at North American Fighting Championships (NAFC) Battle In The Ballroom.
In an interview with Pettis, we talked about numerous topics, from his start in martial arts, to his thoughts on his next opponent, and of course, climbing the ladder to the UFC.
Check out the interview below:
Josh Cardin: Youre 8-0, fighting this Saturday at NAFC Battle at the Ballroom, versus James Porter at Bantamweight. How is the weight cut going?
Sergio Pettis: Yes, the weight cut is a lot more fun this time around, I don’t have to cut 30 pounds for this fight, which is a blessing. The weight cut is not that bad. You know, I can keep running, keep training…compared to 125, I have a lot more energy for this camp.
Josh Cardin: That’s going to pay off in spades on Saturday night. Now, you said you have to cut close to 30 pounds for flyweight? What is your walking around weight?
Sergio Pettis: I usually walk around at 155 or 158…I grew, I used to walk around at 145 or 148, but in the last 6 months or so, I’ve gained about 10 pounds. Now, I just walk around a little heavier everywhere, even when I’m training.
Josh Cardin: Recently, you added a new facet to your training: you started working with a
strength and conditioning coach at NxLevel gym out in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Can you credit that move with your increased weight?
Sergio Pettis: Yes, I would think so. You know, putting on some more muscle and getting my body to get bigger. I just turned 20 years old, so I don’t know how my body is going to grow still.
Josh Cardin: Now, a lot of guys, a lot of up and comers in this sport, aren’t living their life as a full time professional athletes, with the clean diet and fitness regimen to go along with their training. Can you credit your older brother, UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis, with kind of ‘getting you on the right track’ in terms of being a full time mixed martial artist?
Sergio Pettis: Yes, I went with him up to NxLevel, and I fell in love with that place. And MMA–this is what I want to do with my life. I know that means that I need the whole package: having a good diet, training, and putting work in to get stronger.
Josh Cardin: Sergio, your brothers story is well publicized, but I wanted to get the story of how you started in martial arts and MMA. Do you also come from a Tae Kwon Do background?
Sergio Pettis: Yes, my pops started us in Tae Kwon Do when we were little kids. He would go to college, and they offered a class there. We would just do it, and you know, got good at it there. Then Anthony made the transition to Duke Roufus’ Kickboxing and MMA and I remember seeing his first fight when I was about 13 years old. He won, it was pretty awesome, and I was hooked. I knew that this is what I wanted to do.
Josh Cardin: Your last fight, you won the RFA Flyweight title. We talked before about the weight cut (or lack thereof) benefitting you this time around. Besides that, are there any concerns or advantages to fighting at a higher weight class this Saturday?
Sergio Pettis: No, not at all man. I like 135. I have fought at 135 for most of the fights in my career. I feel a lot more comfortable at 135, actually, I don’t have to kill myself to make the weight. I feel a lot more explosion, and pretty much, I just feel like my natural self at this weight class.
Josh Cardin: Your match up this Saturday is with James Porter. He is 5-1, and he is coming off a decision win in January. Three out of Porter’s five wins have come by way of submission. Compared to your last fight, which was against a fellow TKD black belt, does fighting a submission-based fighter give you any concern or cause you to bring something extra to your training camp?
Sergio Pettis: No, man. I mean, a fight’s a fight. You know, if he wants to try and submit me, try and take me down, then I’ll use my strength and superior technique to help me with that. I just have to trust my training. I work with coach Diego Moraes. I went down to Brazil to train Jiu Jitsu and learn from the guys there, I’m working with coach Daniel Wanderley down here, training with a black belt from Brazil, so anything that he throws at me on the ground is something that I’ve seen before.
Josh Cardin: Moving forward, it is no secret that you have UFC aspirations. On an average day, how much does that goal enter your thought process?
Sergio Pettis: It helps alot. You know, I spend a lot of time thinking about that, and it drives me. Just knowing that I’m not going to be fighting at small shows my whole life, that I am going to be in the UFC one of these days, hopefully sooner rather than later. I’m excited to join my brother there, I’m excited to make my mark in my era.