Anthony Pettis (pictured) is young, good looking, charismatic, financially secure, polite but can be edgy and talk smack when the occasion calls for it, and he’s the UFC’s freshly-minted lightweight champion.
If this were Match.com, Pettis would be getting a “wink” 24/7. Since this is the fight business, which oftentimes blurs the line with show business, the UFC knows they’ve found their next big star in “Showtime.”
“I’m not looking for guys to be Chael Sonnen,” UFC president Dana White stated after watching the birth of their latest meal ticket. “If they are, they are. I don’t care if you can’t f—— speak, ever, and you don’t say one word as long as you fight your ass off. People don’t show up to hear speeches, they show up to see people perform. That’s all I care about.
“If you get a guy and he fights like Anthony Pettis, and he looks like Anthony Pettis, and he dresses like Anthony Pettis, that doesn’t suck, either. When you got a guy who’s got the whole package, and that kid does, it’s not a bad thing.”
The UFC isn’t short on superstars, lead by Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva and Ronda Rousey. Although, despite all of his early successes, there’s something about Jones that continues to rub some fans the wrong way. And while GSP is the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view draw, his lack of highlight reel finishes doesn’t appeal to the mainstream audience.
Silva was the company’s most decorated champion, but he no longer dons the middleweight belt. The Brazilian’s reluctance to speak English hasn’t necessarily helped in the marketing department, either.
Rousey, on the other hand, is a different phenomenon that is on Pettis playing field. She’s discovered a way to make big waves in a short period of time in a male-dominated sport.
What’s next for Pettis? We’ll have to wait and see. Regardless, the UFC knows a draw when they see it and the Pettis hoopla train is just getting warmed up.