Pettis prepares for August UFC title bout at new weight

UFC featherweight title contender Anthony Pettis, right (Getty)

UFC featherweight title contender Anthony Pettis, right (Getty) (Credit: UFC featherweight title contender Anthony Pettis, right (Getty))

Anthony Pettis earned a UFC title shot when he defeated Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone in a lightweight bout in January. But rather than challenge Benson Henderson -- a man Pettis already defeated nearly 2 1/2 years ago -- for the 155-pound championship, Pettis chose to go after a more highly-regarded titleholder, featherweight (145-pound) champion Jose Aldo. The two are schedule to face off in the UFC 163 main event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 3. amNewYork recently caught up with Pettis while the Milwaukee-based title contender was in Manhattan promoting MetroPCS.

How did you feel about Aldo initially resisting accepting the bout?

I just wanted the fight to happen. Dana promised the fight was gonna happen. ... I've been excited for four title chances already. I was supposed to fight Frankie Edgar. I was supposed to fight Ben Henderson. And then all that switched up and they had rematches. Then [the] Aldo [was] confirmed and all of a sudden the media comes out saying he doesn't wanna fight me. And I'm like, "What's this about, Dana? We better make this fight happen." I don't think it was [Aldo] being afraid. No champ should be afraid ever. I think it was more him wanting to fight in Brazil or wanting more money. I don't know what it was.

Have you ever met Aldo?

Yes. He doesn't speak English. So I shook his hand. We fought in the WEC together. I was on the same card as him, so I've met him. I shook his hand. Never had a conversation with the guy. I respect the dude. I don't dislike him or anything. I think his skill is really [good]. He's in the position where he needs to be at, so I gotta challenge him.

How does your taekwondo striking style stack up to Aldo's more muay Thai-based style?

I love it. My style's different than his style. He has that style that's in your face and he comes in with that big power. It's very predictable. He doesn't need to change it up. It works for him. I got that unpredictable style where you don't know what's coming. I throw crazy, unorthodox moves. So I think [if you] put those two styles together, it makes for a perfect matchup.

Will you work in some capoeira too?

I never did capoeira. Actually, that rumor started [because of] that kick I did against Shane Roller [in August 2010 in the WEC] was like, "He does capoeira." And actually, I messed up. I was trying to do a jump kick and my ankle twisted a little bit, so I was improvising and threw a kick up. And they were like, "Oh, he does capoeira." No, but I never did capoeira. It's just all taekwondo.

Have you thought about trying capoeira?

No, not really. It's funny, one of my cousins, he's so into capoeira. We have all these styles of martial arts in my family. A capoeira guy, a boxing guy, taekwondo guys, karate guys. And we would go to these family picnics and all of us would just show each other moves. And capoeira is one of those things I never believed in because it was like, the movement's a little bit different. It's like breakdancing. I did breakdance as a kid, though.

When was the last time you weighed 145 pounds?

High school. Maybe not even high school.

What are you doing to get ready for the weight cut to 145?

First, I'm doing a pre-cut. I cut the first week of June so I can get down to 145 [pounds] and see how I feel and then change up my diet accordingly because I've never been down there.

Where does your weight usually sit?

I usually walk around at 175, 170 for a [155-pound] fight, so I'm getting down to [160] for this camp.

How much water weight do you end up cutting the week of a fight?

At 155, a pound, two pounds at the most. But at [145], it's probably gonna be, I'm hoping, less than five.

Are you interested in any other fights at 145 pounds?

Not really. The only reason 145 was a discussion was Jose Aldo. If there wasn't one guy down there who had what he has. That pound-for-pound spot. The world afraid of him and saying he's one of the best lighter fighters in the world. That's what's intrigues me about that fight. I'm doing fine at [155]. I could have stayed at [155] and gotten a title shot, but like I said, this guy here has a little bit more than the fight with Henderson. Everybody wants to see that fight [against Henderson], but beating Jose Aldo does a lot more for me than beating Henderson.

Will you go back to lightweight if you lose to Aldo?

Definitely. I wouldn't think about staying at [145]. I'm taking a big risk. I'm going to a new weight class. I'm fighting the best in the world at that weight class, and I'm doing it in his hometown. So I'm taking a huge risk, but that's just my fighting style. That's me in general. I just take big risks. Big risk, big rewards. It's motivating. You've got everybody thinking you're going to lose the fight. You've got everybody thinking that it's impossible, [that] I'm dumb for taking the fight. It's motivating for me.

Do you still have unfinished business with Henderson?

Yeah, for sure. I think if I win the Aldo fight, it just sets up a bigger fight. It's a [145] pound champ versus the 155-pound champ. The last guy to beat him. It definitely sets [up] a great storyline. I'm not too worried about Henderson right now.


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