Sergio Pettis feels like he’s been here before.
As he prepares to face Patchy Mix at Bellator 301 in what could be Bellator’s final show, Pettis is reminded of one of his final UFC flyweight fights in 2019. At the time, he was riding high after defeating multi-time UFC title challenger Joseph Benavidez, and he knew a win would likely put him in title contention.
Unfortunately, his rise up the ranks ran parallel to rumors that the UFC was possibly dumping the entire 125-pound division. Several high-profile fighters — including future champion Brandon Moreno — had suddenly been released from the promotion.
Paramount, the parent company to Bellator, has been in talks for months about selling the promotion; its subsidiary, Showtime, is shuttering the entire sports division at the end of this year. That leaves Pettis and just about everybody else at Bellator stuck in limbo, with no real idea what happens after Friday’s event.
“I feel like I was in this situation before,” Pettis told MMA Fighting. “When I was in the flyweight division for the UFC and I was fighting Jussier Formiga, and I found out like two days before I fought him that the UFC was thinking about getting rid of the whole flyweight division.
“It threw off my mentality. I was like, ‘Why do I even care about winning this fight if I’m not even going to be able to get a shot at the title?’ I feel like I’ve learned from that.”
The UFC never got rid of the division, but the damage was already done for Pettis, who lost a unanimous decision to Formiga.
That’s why Pettis refuses to let questions about Bellator’s future distract him from the task at hand. He’s about to face an opponent with an 18-1 record, including 13 finishes. Mix just demolished Pettis’ teammate, Raufeon Stots, with a blistering 80-second knockout.
“None of that s*** matters to me,” Pettis said. “Whatever happens with Bellator happens. I’m their champion. I’m proud to be their champion. I plan on still being the champion after this Friday night.”
If there’s a positive spin to Bellator’s pending doom, it’s that Pettis finds himself in an advantageous position with six straight wins, five of them at bantamweight. He took out Patricio Pitbull, who is widely considered the Bellator GOAT, in lopsided fashion.
Now Pettis looks to add Mix to his win column as well. His current promotion may be in peril, but he feels confident he’ll land on his feet no matter what happens.
“I think this win over Patchy this weekend opens up a lot more doors for me,” Pettis said. “That was the whole goal. As soon as I left the UFC, they’re telling me I need to become a champion elsewhere for numbers and all that extra stuff. I stopped caring about that.
“I’m just taking it fight by fight. Having fun. I’m in this for the long haul. Wherever I end up, I end up. I’m still going to be the best martial artist I can be and that’s all I can be in control of.”
To add to that, Pettis just recently celebrated his 30th birthday, and he feels like he’s just now starting to reach his full potential, which is scary to think considering the record he’s already amassed in his career.
“I’m a late bloomer,” Pettis said with a laugh. “I haven’t shown my full capability. I haven’t shown everything I have. These next five years, I really plan on leaving my mark on the sport and becoming one of the best to do it.
“I was actually doing the math recently of the last four guys I fought and I think [their combined records were] like 127 wins and 19 losses. It’s crazy. It’s all coming together. I’m really excited for this Friday. This is everything I wanted.”