Back to the drawing board for Anthony Pettis

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Over a week removed from UFC 185, and in his first interview since losing his UFC lightweight title to Rafael dos Anjos in Dallas last weekend, Anthony Pettis still seemed unsure about how or why he fell to defeat.

“I don’t know what happened,” Pettis told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “My timing was off. I didn’t have any strength out there. I felt weak. And it was just like something went wrong, so I gotta figure it out and we gotta fix it. I never felt that weak in a fight and it was the wrong night to feel like that.”

Pettis, 28, is still in the early stages of the healing process, having fractured his left orbital bone in the opening round of the fight. He was critical of his own lacklustre performance saying, “I wasn’t there mentally”, but was quick to credit his opponent for inflicting the damage and earning the victory.

“He caught me with that big left,” Pettis said. “The first punch he hit me with, I couldn’t see. I had triple vision. It was a great punch. He got me right in the eyeball.”

Pettis went further to state that the damage to his eye and his impaired vision was not enough to explain his poor showing.

“There were a lot of things that factored into that performance. I mean, having one eye doesn’t stop the fact that I didn’t stop any of his takedowns. It didn’t stop the fact of me taking the wrong angles.”

Speaking of the defeat, Pettis was candid in saying that he was still trying to ‘figure it out’, but there was one change he is determined to make.

“The biggest thing I think I’m gonna change is me and my little bro fighting on the same card,” Pettis told Helwani.

“Showtime” no longer wants to fight on the same card as his brother. Sergio, Anthony’s younger sibling, was knocked out by Ryan Benoit on the preliminary card of UFC 185. The Pettis brothers had fought on the same card previously at UFC 181 where both fighters were victorious, but on March 15 it didn’t go quite as smoothly. Going forward, Anthony isn’t willing to risk having Sergio’s fights affect his career.

“The first time it went amazing, the second time not so well. He got knocked out. I had to watch that and get up mentally for my fight. Not making excuses or nothing, but them little things could have triggered my performance.”

Pettis (18-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) was unwilling to concede that watching his brother get knocked out shortly before his own fight affected him psychologically, but admitted that it was a difficult situation for the team in general given that both athletes use the same cornermen.

“I don’t think it really messed me up mentally,” Pettis said. “I mean, it sucks to see him lose like that, to get knocked out. He had a great first round. Second round, he just got caught. It happens.”

“I think it was just a little bit too much for everybody emotionally to go through. Next time if I’m fighting in a big fight like that, it has to be all about me.”

“Showtime” was reluctant to make excuses for his defeat, choosing instead to credit his opponent with a stellar performance. He said that his fight camp had gone well and that he hadn’t overlooked dos Anjos. Pettis does, however, take solace in the fact that, although he was beaten comprehensively, he was not at his best on the night.

“I’m definitely down about losing my belt, but that wasn’t the best Anthony Pettis”, he said. He didn’t go out there and demolish my best performance. Then [I’d be] like yeah, I need to figure out why I suck at what I do. I just didn’t put it together. It just wasn’t my night.”

Pettis sounded in good spirits throughout the interview, all things considered, and despite being on medical suspension for the time being, the former champion gave his thoughts on a potential match-up with Nate Diaz.

“I would love to fight Nate Diaz. I mean, that’s a fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. So, if that’s next, I’m for sure down with that”.

With both fighters coming off a loss to current lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos, a bout between Diaz and Pettis could make sense, not to mention an exciting fight. For now though, fresh of the biggest beating of his career, Pettis isn’t getting ahead of himself.

“I gotta get back to the drawing board and figure out what went wrong”.