If you are looking for a Fighter of the Year in 2010, you perhaps have to look no further than Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. With three wins already under his belt this year, Pettis looks for his fourth when he faces WEC Lightweight Champion Ben “Smooth” Henderson at WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis on Dec. 16, 2010.
At just 23 years of age, the Milwaukee native has taken the MMA world by storm with his flashy fighting style. For his upcoming title bout with Henderson, Pettis is inviting a lucky Bullz-Eye.com reader to walk with him to the cage in Glendale, Ariz. I had a chance to talk to the WEC lightweight contender about his title opportunity, his
sponsorship with AMP Energy, as well as the upcoming merger between the WEC and
Bullz-Eye: Anthony, how is everything going?
Anthony Pettis: Things are going great.
BE: That’s great well tell me about training for this title fight on December 16 against Ben Henderson.
AP: Training going great. This is a huge fight for me. There is a lot riding on it and I am taking this fight very seriously. I have been training hard and just excited for the fight to come.
BE: What makes Ben Henderson so tough and successful?
AP: He is just very well rounded. He is good everywhere and he looks to finish the fight at all times. He really brings it. He has great conditioning and he is dangerous everywhere the fight goes no matter if it is standing or on the ground.
BE: Talk a little bit about your last fight with Shane Roller. That was the fight that really pushed you to the title shot.
AP: Shane was dominant wrestler so I really worked on my takedown defense heading into the fight. I can really pick things up quickly and I worked with a lot of great guys to get ready. I drilled takedown defense every day for a long time leading up to that fight so when the fight finally happened, I was prepared for everything that happened.
BE: Did you expect to get the title shot following your win over Roller?
AP: I didn’t expect to get the title shot. I thought I might have to win another fight or two, but they offered it to me and I was thrilled.
AP: I am a way better fighter now. My skills have come up so much and just my motivational skills have improved since that loss. It is incredible how much I have learned and how much I have improved in the last year.
BE: The WEC is going to be absorbed by the UFC at the start of 2011. What were your initial thoughts when you heard about the merger?
AP: I loved it. My whole goal when I started competing was to face off with the best in the world and now there is no doubt that I will get to do that and the opportunities that fighting in the UFC will provide are tremendous.
BE: How does the merger change this title fight for you, if at all? The winner of your fight with Henderson gets to face the UFC Lightweight Champion.
AP: It doesn’t change much. It may push me a little more, but I am already motivated. This is an exciting time for the WEC and for me. Really, this was the best time for me to get a title shot. This is the last WEC event, I am in the main event, I am fighting for a title, and the winner gets a UFC title shot. It is crazy.
BE: How does the merger change your future?
AP: All of us guys in the WEC are excited about this because we all put our heart into it. We don’t feel like we have been disrespected, but we feel like we don’t get as much recognition. Now, the money will be much better and we will be put on the big stage. There are some guys in the WEC that will definitely make some noise in the UFC.
BE: AMP is having a fan walk out with you during the title fight, what is the experience like when you are walking to the cage – Walking out is crazy. The music is blaring loud and the crowd is going nuts. As you are walking out to the cage it is the point of no return. You know the next 15 minutes and for that fight, the next 25 minutes will decide the rest of my career. It is cool that AMP is having a fan walk out with me for the event and for anyone interested, they can register to win the contest at Bullz-Eye.com and I will announce the winner during WEC 52 on Versus.
BE: What is it like having a company like AMP backing you now as a sponsor?
AP: Being backed by AMP is great and they get behind the right guys in this sport. It is an honor to have them want to associate with me and I am looking forward to doing a lot of great things with them.
BE: You recently were featured on the MTV documentary series “World of Jenks.” How have things changed for you since that appearance?
AP: I get recognized more for being on “World of Jenks” than I do for fighting. It was great because fans got a chance to see me prepare and see how hard I work. I have had a lot of people tell me that my story was motivational as well, so that is really cool.
BE: You are from Milwaukee and like to represent the city. How badly does Milwaukee need a world champion?
AP: We need one bad (laughs). It would be great to bring a world championship to the city. We haven’t had one in a long time and we deserve one.
BE: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
AP: Just thank you to all that support me. Your support means a lot and there is a lot of exciting times ahead.