Milwaukee Mixed Martial Arts Prospect Sergio Pettis Set For Biggest Challenge of Young Career
By Paul Fladten of US Combat Sports
Every time Sergio Pettis steps into the cage the stakes have been raised. Still only 18 years old, but already with four professional wins under his belt, “The Phenom” prepares to face Kentucky prospect Tom McKenna at Legends of Fighting Championship “Memorium” on Friday in the biggest fight of his young career.
Pettis, who is replacing Roufusport teammate Chico Camus in the finale of an eight-man bantamweight tournament, looks to continue his ascent up the bantamweight rankings, earn a bid into Tachi Palace Fights, and hopefully catch the eye of UFC talent scouts in the process.
“It was amazing that Chico got the bump up to the UFC and it felt great when I got offered this fight. Hopefully I can win and have an astonishing performance and get some looks at me from the UFC and hopefully a couple wins in Tachi Palace so I can be at where I want to be.”
Just weeks removed from a unanimous decision victory over Chris Haney in the flyweight division, the invitation to compete within the LFC bantamweight tournament was music to Pettis’ ears after suffering through a miserable weight cut during his initial venture into the 125-pound division.
“I’m really happy at 135 because I’ve had some great performances there,” Pettis told US Combat Sports. “Last time was my first time cutting to 125 and it was a lot harder than I imagined. I was flatfooted during the fight and my body wasn’t cooperating the way I wanted it to. So I feel a lot better being back up at 135 and I feel this is where I should be for my body type.”
Standing in the Milwaukee fighter’s path to the Tachi Palace organization is McKenna, a 23-year-old Kentuckian who trains out of Louisville MMA. McKenna holds a record of 5-1 and represents the biggest threat to Pettis’ unblemished record up to this point.
“I definitely think he is the toughest opponent I’ve faced so far,” said Pettis. “I’ve seen his performances and he’s really good and this is going to be a big step up for me. So yeah, McKenna is going to be a big challenge.”
With four of McKenna’s five victories coming via submission, Pettis said that he hopes to keep the fight standing rather than have it go to the ground.
“I see his standup is pretty decent but I want to keep this fight standing. I have way better striking than he does. I think his jiu-jitsu is where he stands out and I think he’s going to try to get it to the floor to make me look like a kid and just punish me. He has a weird style of wrestling so I just have to watch out for most of his ground game and keep it on the feet where I have the advantage.”
No matter if the fight stays standing or goes to the mat, “The Phenom” is once again faced with a greater amount of pressure than nearly anyone else his age. And despite the fact that dealing with this pressure is getting easier to deal with as his career progresses, that isn’t to say that it doesn’t still exist.
“It’s [the pressure] getting a lot easier to control, but there is still that pressure there that I have to fight like Anthony, I’m a little kid and I need to fight like an adult, and there is still a lot of pressure on me. But it’s getting easier to control with each fight and I’m learning how to deal with my emotions.”
With his emotions in check, body at a comfortable weight, and eyes fixed on the prize, Pettis looks poised for another big performance when he faces McKenna at the LFC 53 main event. Now it’s time for him to relax and show the fans, the media, and promoters why he is so highly regarded.
“This fight I’m just going to think and I’m just going to go out there and have fun. Fans should expect to see a lot of striking, a lot of boxing, and me setting up some kicks and hopefully they’ll see me get a big finish. That’s what I’m going for.”