WEC lightweight Anthony Pettis is an unassuming guy. He doesn't walk into his gym, Roufus Training Academy, as the star. Instead, he's the eager-to-learn fighter who soaks up everything he can from his coaches.
Still, MTV has chosen to spotlight Pettis on "The World of Jenks," a new show that will immerse the viewer in different types of people's lives. It followed Pettis the week that he KOed Danny Castillo at WEC 47.
"I was coming off a loss, so I didn't know what was going to happen. It could have gone either way," Pettis told Cagewriter. "If I lost again, I was cut from the WEC. But I won, and I won twice, and now I'm that close to a title shot. It was crazy to have the cameras in your face everywhere. It was a cool experience. I'm really interested to see how it turns out."
He doesn't consider himself a star, but it's that eager-to-learn attitude that makes Pettis an interesting fighter to watch and a perfect fit for MTV. Out of his 11 wins, only one fight has gone to decision.
Because of the MTV series, he got the chance to see how his mother reacted to his fights.
"She walked out of the arena, and had her head down, and all she heard was a big commotion. That's when I got my headkick. She said, 'What happened, what happened?' Someone said, 'He won!' And she was happy about it. She can't take it at all."
Family is an extremely important part of Pettis' life. He trains with his younger brother, Sergio, and Anthony says that his MMA career would make his father proud.
"He was the competitive type. With the exposure that I've gotten, I've gone in Milwaukee from no one knowing me to the whole city knows me. Everywhere I go, I have people supporting me. He had a lot of friends, so he'd like that. He was the one who had us in tae kwon do tournaments, so he'd support us."
Pettis' father was murdered in 2003, when Anthony was just 15 years old. Martial arts served as a refuge for him, and kept him focused when he could have easily gone down the path to drugs and gangs, as some of his family did.
"I had the worst of the worst happen to me, and I could have chosen to go anywhere. I could have chosen to give up on anything, be bad, live the street life, go to jail. All my cousins are in gangs. My dad's brother has three boys, and their dad also died in a house robbery, seven years before my dad, and they all joined gangs. They're 34 years old now, and they're lost. Martial arts gave me focus and gave me something to do. If I couldn't come here every day and do this, I'd be lost."
For WEC 50, Pettis has his focus trained on Shane Roller, an All-American wrestler. To get ready for him, Pettis has worked with a slew of top wrestlers. Two-time national champion Ben Askren stopped by Roufus Sport to work with Pettis.
Pettis knows that Roller will want to take the fight to the ground, so he has been working on takedown defense. Though Pettis is more comfortable on his feet, he believes in all the parts of his game.
"I'm confident that my skills are better than his, standing up, on the ground, and I'm going to stuff his takedowns."