Former UFC champion Anthony Pettis seeking redemption after dire 2021 PFL campaign

Anthony Pettis is aiming to redeem himself in this year’s PFL campaign after failing to qualify for the playoffs in last year’s competition.

Pettis, 35, signed with the PFL last year following a near 10-year tenure in the UFC. ‘Showtime’ fought some of the best fighters during his time in the promotion and captured the lightweight title in 2014, defending it one time before losing it the following year.

The Milwaukee-native even holds wins over current UFC featherweight champion Charles Oliveira and top welterweight Stephen Thompson. Despite his experience, Pettis was eliminated in the opening round of last year’s PFL tournament after losing fights to Clay Collard and Raush Manfio.

Pettis started off this year’s season in much better fashion, submitting Myles Price in the opening round at PFL 3 in April. Speaking ahead of his fight with fellow UFC veteran Stevie Ray tonight, he told reporters: “This season is all about redemption. Last season didn’t go my way and I still love this sport, fighting was something that I think I was born to do.

“Knowing that I didn’t give my all last season and it didn’t go my way, this season is all about redemption for me. I’m trying to go out there and get this third belt.”

Pettis is in a unique position heading into his fight against Ray in Atlanta. He has already qualified for the playoffs after scoring six points for his win over Price. The former UFC star insisted he isn’t paying attention to the current rankings and is approaching his fight against Ray the same way as any other.

“I’m focused because the way last season went makes me have a lot to prove this season,” he continued. “If I go out there and make a big mistake which gets me hurt, I might have to pull out of the tournament. So I’ve got to be on my p’s and q’s, I’ve got to be smart.

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PFL 3 at the Esports Stadium Arlington in Arlington, Texas, Friday, May 6, 2022. (Cooper Neill / PFL)

“[Ray] needs the point to qualify for the playoffs, so a lot of firsts for me in the PFL. I’ve never been in a situation where I know I’ve got a guaranteed fight in six weeks, but I’ve got this fight in front of me. I’m trying to take it one fight at a time and enjoy this process again.”

Pettis’ opponent Ray lost a close split decision to Alexander Martinez in April. All of the other lightweights in the tournament have already competed, so Ray knows he must finish Pettis to qualify for the next round.

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