Pettis season approaching. After being forced to pull out of his match against Josh Thomson in December 2013 when he tore his posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), Anthony Pettis is real close to making his return to the Octagon. It will be his first time defending the lightweight championship title he earned after defeating Benson Henderson in UFC 164. But before all that, "Showtime" will partake in the next season of The Ultimate Fighter which consist entirely of female fighters. Needless to say, the 27-year-old from Milwaukee, Wisc. has plenty going on in the months leading up to his next fight.
Recently, we got on the horn with Pettis to discuss everything from his recently announced partnership with Reebok to the country he's rooting for in the 2014 World Cup to the importance of family in his life.
Interview by Jose Martinez (@ZayMarty)
Can you speak on your partnership with Reebok?
To be recognized by a brand like Reebok and to know that the company is looking at mixed martial arts shows the growth of the sport. For me, it's an amazing opportunity. I get to be the face of my own shoe and it's surreal.
What makes this partnership with Reebok so special for you?
I think Reebok is just recognizing mixed martial arts. And me being one of the top athletes and the Lightweight champ, I think it makes sense for me to be a part of the team. There are a lot of champions out there, a lot of great guys, but I think that the way I compete and my fighting style makes me perfect for Reebok.
How would you describe your fighting style?
I would say athletic. Most guys aren't doing what I'm doing in practice, like jumping off cages. I like to make my fights exciting and different. Everybody in UFC can fight, we're capable of kickboxing, wrestling, but I like to stand out. That's what I really pride myself on. What can I do to stand out from the other people in my sport.
So, you're saying that you do certain things that are outside of the norm when it comes to mixed martial arts...
It's not something I'm trying to do. It's just how I grew doing mixed martial arts. I have a taekwondo background, but I also try to invent new moves and make sure that when I step into the Octagon, I'm a different fighter.
What makes the Reebok ZJet the go-to shoe for you when it comes to training?
Being a mixed martial artist, cardio is a huge part of the sport. So, finding the shoe that makes me feel like I'm getting the most out of my training and the ZJet makes me feel that way. Plus, performance is key when it comes to MMA, I pride myself on how fast I run and having a shoe that helps me accomplish that is great.
Without my mom, I wouldn't be who I am. She kept the family and myself on track. So, making her smile is a big reason why I do what I do.
Are you still on track for your next fight?
How does it feel to be on The Ultimate Fighter?
I start filming this week. I think it is going to be interesting. It's the first time we will have all female contestants, so I think it will add a new dynamic to the show. I have never coached female fighters before, but I am up for the job. We'll see how it goes.
What's your current situation with fighting Jose Aldo?
That fight is going to happen soon. Gilbert Melendez is the next guy and I don't like to look past my opponents, but everyone wants to see that fight. If he moves up to my weight class, we can make it happen. Going down 10 pounds is going to be a tough thing for me.
Are you watching the World Cup?
Yeah, definitely. I'm watching as many matches as I can.
Who are you rooting for?
I was rooting Mexico because that's my heritage and the United States because I'm from here. But I've been to Brazil and met a couple of their players, so I'm also rooting for them.
And who is your favorite player right now?
I would probably say Neymar. I like his style and the way he plays. Plus, he has an amazing story.
Have you made any big purchases recently?
I opened up two new businesses: a barbershop in Milwaukee, Wisc. and another gym.
What's the story behind opening a barbershop?
I saw a good business opportunity. A lot of my friends are barbers. I was looking for tax write-offs and a barbershop was a good way to give back to the community. Also, I spend a lot of time in barbershops. I get a haircut like twice a week.
Being from Milwaukee, are you a fan of, say, the Bucks and Brewers?
Yeah, I'm a Bucks fan. They're not too well though.
You had to like that they got a nice cornerstone player in Jabari Parker.
They need it. [Laughs.] They always have a problem with trading their guys too soon or making bad trades. I don't know if they even want to stay in Milwaukee.
Throughout your career, you have always shown the importance of family and heritage. For those that don't know, can you speak a little on your background?
As I kinda eluded to earlier, my mom is Mexican and my dad is Puerto Rican. Obviously, I was born in the United States, so that's part of my heritage as well. It's very important to be connected with my roots. I have been to Puerto Rico and Mexico plenty of times. That's what makes me who I am inside and outside of the Octagon. I grew up very close to my brothers and my mother. I lost my father at a young age. Without my mom, I wouldn't be who I am. She kept the family and myself on track. So, making her smile is a big reason why I do what I do.