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Patience is Key for Sergio Pettis

 
Sergio Pettis faces Ryan Benoit at UFC 185 in Dallas’ American Airlines Center on Saturday, and for the second time he will be on a UFC card that his older brother Anthony is headlining.

And that’s just fine with him.
“The last time we both fought on the same card we got good results,” said Sergio, who is making the cut from bantamweight to flyweight for the first time in his UFC career.

“The cut is always tough but I’m feeling good,” he says.

Pettis has had trouble making the cut in the past, so all eyes will be on him on weigh-in day, however, under the watchful eye of coach Duke Roufus and his brother, it’s likely Sergio will be fine.

“It makes the cut easier when Anthony is also in camp,” he said. “But I’m a professional now, and I’m doing the cut the right way, as opposed to in the past when I was just cutting weight without any nutritional help.”

Fighting brings multiple opponents simultaneously to the 21-year-old prospect. He not only has to fight Ryan Benoit, he has to fight his own desire to eat like a normal human being, and he is constantly fighting to climb out of the long shadow that his brother casts.
“There is added pressure because everyone compares me to my brother,” he said. “As a 21-year-old it’s hard to deal with. Anthony has been in this sport a lot longer than I have but I have the same last name, so people are always going to compare us. But in this sport everybody has pressure. We all have to find ways to deal with it and perform on fight night.”

Fight night this time means a hard-hitting Ryan Benoit. It might be the first time since entering the UFC someone on the other side of the Octagon is as good on the feet as Pettis is, which if you know anything about the Pettis brothers, is great news for the fans.
> Watch Sergio's UFC debut fight

“This will be an exciting fight,” he says. “Benoit is a good standup fighter with really good Muay Thai and he’s also a good wrestler.  He is a good scrambler on the floor. He brings a variety of different assets to the table.”

Exciting is right square in Pettis’ wheelhouse. While he is quick to say he is not Anthony Pettis – that he is his own man, one cannot help but see the similarities in the brothers’ fight styles. It’s only natural, considering they’ve been training together their entire lives.

“My striking is superior to Benoit’s, it has to be,” Sergio said. “I train with the champion every day.  But he will want to push the pace on me and try to take me down. The only thing he’s going to be able to do is take me down and lay on me. I know this will be a tough fight, but I’m very confident.”

A second degree black belt, Tae Kwon Do has always been a big part of Sergio’s life.

At 13 years old he was a world champion in point sparring, where speed kills. In the flyweight division, speed is something that comes with the territory, especially when talking about champion Demetrious Johnson, who is considered the fastest fighter in the UFC.

For Pettis however, his Tae Kwon Do pedigree might be the secret weapon needed to rise to contender status in a short amount of time.
“Tae Kwon Do is kind of less respected in MMA, but there are some people like my brother and I who can add a little flair to the basic one-two-three low kick combo,” he said. “We can add those head kicks and some spin kicks and it gets exciting for the fans. You obviously have to be smart with it. You can’t spin when you’re too close because you will get clipped and the fight is over. You have to pick your spots and throw things where you know you can land safely. You have to have the right range and maybe wait until the end of the round. But spin kicks are like second nature to us. We train them everyday.”

And he studies other fighters who are also good at mixing in Tae Kwon Do in fights, like lightweights Daron Cruickshank and Edson Barboza.

“Cruickshank is awesome with traditional round kicks and he uses side kicks like jabs,” he said.  “But Edson Barboza is a beautiful fighter because he combines some spin kicks with those hard Muay Thai kicks. The difference is that in traditional Tae Kwon Do competition there’s a break during a fight. In MMA there is no break. If you hit or miss you have to continue the fight. Then there is also learning which part of the foot to hit with. When you’re kicking pads you’re not kicking anyone’s elbows, so you have to be really careful you don’t break your foot during a fight. You just have to be patient.”
Patience is a word that comes up a lot when talking to the younger Pettis. He knows his time will come, and he’s prepared to take the journey, no matter how long.

“I have to have patience,” he said. “I’ve seen what my brother’s been through and what he’s had to go through to get to where he is. I’m starting to understand the sport a lot better, and I think I’m going at the right speed to make a name for myself. I am going to go down as one of the greatest fighters in this sport. So right now I’m just going to have fun with it.”

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