Anthony Pettis Ready To Secure Title Shot

At the ripe age of 23, Anthony Pettis is already getting close to an opportunity to fight for the WEC lightweight title.

So close, he can smell it.

After posting consecutive stoppage victories, the young fighter has jumped to the top tier of the lightweight division. At WEC 50 on August 18, Pettis faces off against fellow 155-pound contender Shane Roller in a bout that will likely determine the next challenger to Ben Henderson’s lightweight title.

Now, recently, fights to determine a top contender in a division have fallen short in terms of entertainment. Just look at UFC 117’s co-main event between Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves, or UFC 115’s co-main event between Paul Daley and Josh Koscheck.

When the top contender slot is on the line, the majority of the time it seems fighters will take the more conservative approach to win the fight.

But Pettis is not going to let a potential title shot sway him from his exciting fighting style.

“I’m just going to go and give it my all like it was any other fight,” Pettis says. “My big thing is not letting it go to the judges. If it goes to the judges, I consider that a loss because I didn’t finish the guy. My big thing is to finish the fight and go in there like it was any other fight.”

Pettis has certainly avoided making a habit of going to the judges’ scorecards. In his last two bouts, Pettis decimated Danny Castillo with a headkick knockout and followed up the “Knockout of the Night” winner with a slick triangle submission victory over Alex Karalexis, a submission that may have earned him a bonus had Ben Henderson not submitted Donald Cerrone in the evening’s co-feature.

The young lightweight has given his all to entertain fans with dominant finishes, but that is just how Pettis rolls. And he says his exciting style will be on display August 18.

“This is one of those fights where I just want to win because I know what a win over Shane Roller would do for me,” Pettis says. “Every time I fight, you can expect a good fight, a good show. It’s just my fight style though, and it’s going to be an interesting fight.”

Like Pettis, Roller has also become quite the finisher as of late. In his last two outings, the dominant wrestler has posted back-to-back submission finishes, both by rear naked choke.

Still, facing a fighter with seven stoppage victories out of eight wins, Pettis believes Roller is not nearly as multi-faceted a fighter as he.

“With Shane Roller, I feel I can win the fight in more places than he can,” Pettis says. “His only bet is to try to take me down and submit me. I can win the fight standing. I can win the fight on the ground. In any position, I’m dangerous. I’m going to go in there and make him afraid of my stand up, my jiu-jitsu.”

Throughout his young career, Pettis has shown a well-rounded game, winning fights by vicious knockouts and smooth submissions. Whether the fight remains standing, or hits the mats, Pettis feels ready. And most of that has to do with his time at Duke Roufus’ gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

At Roufusport, Pettis trains with the likes of top tier kickboxer Pat Barry, “The Ultimate Fighter 10” alum Matt Mitrione, and world class wrestler Ben Askren. Training with all those guys, coming from different backgrounds and disciplines certainly can’t hurt a fighter’s progression.

And Pettis sees that progression happening every time he goes to the gym.

“I think I get better every day that I go to the gym,” says Pettis. “I just learn new things, learn new positions, new moves. I have more confidence in my stand up and I’ve just gotten better.”

“For this fight I just focused on becoming a well-rounded fighter. Shane Roller’s going to want to take me down, so we just focused in this camp on fighting the fight, wherever it goes.”

Since beginning his career in 2007, Pettis has won 10 professional contests and only lost one, a close split-decision to Bart Palaszewski at WEC 45.

However, Pettis has worked past the minor bump on his road the lightweight championship with consecutive victories that came in dominant fashion. Now, against Roller at WEC 50, he has the opportunity to continue his rise in the division and take the next step towards the lightweight title he so adamantly seeks.

Yet regardless of his success, Pettis realizes how quickly it has all happened. But at the age of 23, he understands what he wants to accomplish, something that all fighters work so hard to achieve. “I could be the world champion at 23,” Pettis says. “That’s a big accomplishment for me and goal. That’s what every fighter wants and what I’m training for, to be the best.”