Former WEC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis makes his long-awaited UFC debut tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada. The last time “Showtime” took center stage marked the final time anyone would compete inside of a blue Octagon.
Pettis seized the opportunity by unleashing the most unforgettable kick in mixed martial arts history. With so much hoopla and anticipation surrounding his big league premiere, the 24-year-old finds himself fortunate to be in familiar surroundings.
He may be fighting under the UFC’s bright lights and black cage for the first time tonight, but it seems as though he’s seen it all before.
“I can’t really notice anything different,” Pettis told 5thRound of entering his first day with his new company. “I’m at the Palms, maybe that’s the reason because I’ve been here three times before.
“It’s the same staff, same atmosphere, same fun stuff. I mean I think it’s the same organization, just a different brand.”
Due to no fault of his own, this new “brand” hasn’t been too good to him during his first six months of employment. UFC champ Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard fought to a draw and were assigned an immediate rematch, thus delaying Pettis’ lightweight title unification bout. With time on his side and the world at his fingertips, he opted face a gritty Clay Guida instead of waiting to meet the victor of the now-delayed ‘Edgar vs. Maynard III.’
“I already made my mind up,” Pettis said of controlling his own destiny. “If [Frankie and Gray] are taking longer than a couple of months, I’m gonna fight again. There’s no reason to sit around and have them two dictate my career. I’m gonna put my career in my own hands and I’m gonna win fights.
“The title [shot] was a bonus to winning the WEC title, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m here in the UFC to fight. I wanna make money and just keep going.”
Helping further ease his transition is The Pearl inside the Palms is a smaller venue, so tonight’s Octagon won’t be regulation, it will be WEC-size.
Spike TV will broadcast tonight’s show live at 9PM ET/6PM PT. Pettis fighting on free TV, that’s another thing that hasn’t changed – but soon will if he gets his way Saturday night.