November 12th, 2003 was a watershed day for Anthony Pettis. Not only was his father brutally murdered during a house robbery on that tragic night, but it was also the day it forced the then-17-year-old to become the man of his household.
“Initially, when I started doing mixed martial arts I wanted to try something new. It was more for the exercise,” Pettis told OnMilwaukee.com. “I knew from that day I would make him proud and become a professional fighter.”
The lightweight emerged on the WEC scene only a year-and-a-half ago, yet already finds himself dancing in the organization’s swan song with the bling-bling belt at stake.
“I am going to miss the WEC, they made me who I am,” Pettis stated. “They gave me my name and they helped me become the fighter I am right now, but I am really excited I am going to the UFC where I can prove my skills against the highest level guys.”
While enthusiasts of the blue cage are well aware of “Showtime’s” edge-of-your seat MMA game, mainstream fans just recently became enamored with Pettis after his emotional “World of Jenks” documentary aired this past September.
“Everybody watches MTV. So I have fans of all ages that enjoyed that episode, that just connected with the story behind it,” Pettis said.
Not only did the humble up-and-comer get his face plastered on 2 million television sets across the country, but he was also rewarded with a title fight just hours before the riveting episode aired.
“[Ben Henderson] is the champ, so he’s the champ for a reason. He is really good at what he does, and he’s a solid guy,” Pettis said of his WEC 53 foe. “This is going to be one of those fights where I have to give everything I have and make no mistakes.”
Unleashing a flawless performance tonight inside the Jobing.com Arena in Arizona will be easier said than done, particularly because his opponent rocks the hardware and has rolled off 10 consecutive victories. However, given the imperfect life Pettis has been forced to lead, one perfect night isn’t too much to ask for this Holiday Season.