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The Curious Case of Anthony Pettis

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Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Anthony “Showtime” Pettis’ lopsided decision loss to the frighteningly game Edson “Junior” Barboza may have been overshadowed by the return of newly-minted interim light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and the fantastic first-round KO win of reigning UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, but it’s as big a story as those two aforementioned championship wins.

It’s a story of a dramatic—if not unexpected—fall from grace. Pettis, the former UFC and WEC lightweight champion, is now facing a challenging time in his MMA career—enduring a three-fight losing streak since losing his belt against Rafael dos Anjos.

After his brief title reign had been abruptly cut short, Showtime lost to Eddie Alvarez, whose smothering grappling clinic handed the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native the first consecutive losses in his formerly near-pristine career.

You would be forgiven for thinking Pettis’ title reign was lengthier than what I give it credit for. But, the truth of the matter is that Showtime only successfully defended his belt once before losing it—against former Strikeforce titleholder Gilbert Melendez. For the bulk of that time, little over a year and a half, Pettis was unfortunate to accumulate a number of long-term injuries which hampered his progress.

Photo by Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC

Ironically, it was that time away from the Octagon that helped build Pettis’ star. A good-looking, exhilarating fighter of Hispanic descent was gold dust for the UFC marketing machine and Showtime’s importance to the promotion’s brand couldn’t be more evident. The Showtime Kick and a run of consecutive, exciting finishes of top talents Joe Lauzon, Donald Cerrone, Benson Henderson and Melendez added credence to Pettis’ push as a star.

In 2013 and 2014, before his sole title defence against Melendez, Pettis was awarded the Certificate of Achievement by Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin. He also entered a lucrative sponsorship deal with Reebok ….View full article