UFC flyweight Sergio Pettis looks to make it four wins from four when he takes on Brandon Moreno on Saturday (August 5) in Mexico City. The gifted 23-year-old, whose brother is former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, holds consecutive wins over Chris Cariaso, Chris Kelades and John Moraga, all by decision, and appears well on his way to a shot at UFC gold in the not too distant future.
For the April 2017 issue of Fighters Only magazine, Pettis took some time out of training to talk to Tony Reid about brotherly love, sibling similarities and differences, and his coach, Duke Roufus, who has nurtured Sergio since the age of 13.
Q: How influential has your big brother, Anthony, been in your development as a mixed martial artist?
Sergio Pettis: I love training with him. We have that brotherly love. We hit each other a lot harder than we hit everyone else. We have a good time with it. Family is first with us. We want to be the first brothers to hold UFC belts at the same time.
Q: When comparing styles, would you say he’s flashier and you’re more of the technician?
SP: We do definitely have different styles. Anthony goes out there and throws whatever he wants to throw. I stay more technical. I still have the flash and stuff and it will show in time. I feel a lot more confident fighting now so I am more confident throwing some of that stuff. They say flash is trash without the basics. I have my basic game down, so I am ready to throw some flashy stuff now. I will let loose and entertain the fans and entertain myself. I want people to know me as a martial artist that has the flash along with the basics.
Q: What is the one move or technique you land regularly in the gym that you are dying to try in a fight?
SP: There are a lot of moves that would be awesome if I landed them in a fight. One of the moves I have been throwing lately is the cartwheel kick. Anthony used it against (Donald) Cerrone and (Benson) Henderson. I have been using it a lot lately, so who knows? It might come out.
Q: How important is to have the support of your family when you fight?
SP: Whenever we fight in Milwaukee the place is filled with our family members. Our family is huge. They are supportive and have always supported us. It’s great having that support. It’s always nice to have so many people there cheering for you. My mom supports us but she always tells us we are too handsome to fight. She says we should be models or something.
Q: How important has Duke Roufus been in your development?
SP: Duke is awesome. I have been trained by him since I was 13. When he says something, I throw it immediately. It’s like second nature now.
Q: What was it like to start your career so young and have it play out in the spotlight?
SP: At first, it felt like a lot of pressure, especially coming right out of high school and making my professional debut. People were already talking about me because of my last name. It was a lot of pressure in that sense. Now, after fighting for a while, I don’t see it as pressure, I see it as a positive thing.
Q: What do you remember about fighting grown men as a teenager?
SP: In my first professional fight the guy got me down early. I was a little panicky at first. It was the first time I was fighting a grown man. Duke was telling me to calm down, that I train with people better than that. He always gives me the right advice.
Q: What is the most memorable training session you’ve had at Roufusport?
SP: There are a bunch of stories. We aren’t a bland gym. We train but we have our laughs, too. I remember the first time I ever did a gauntlet. It was leading up to my first amateur fight. Around that time we had all these big heavyweights here. I was a 15-year-old and I was in a gauntlet with Pat Barry, Ben Rothwell and all these big guys. Everybody was getting a laugh when I would get the wind knocked out of me. I was pretty much getting jumped into a gang. At least that’s what it felt like.