A stacked UFC 226 main card features a pivotal lightweight bout as #9 ranked Michael ‘Maverick’ Chiesa takes on former UFC lightweight champion #12 ranked Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis.
Pettis (20-7 MMA, 7-6 UFC) has had a rough run after losing his title to Rafael Dos Anjos back in 2015. He is 2-4 after losing his title which includes an unsuccessful stint at featherweight. Pettis did returned to lightweight and registered a unanimous decision victory over veteran Jim Miller, however the victory was followed by another crushing loss to surging Dustin Poirier.
Pettis was slated to face Chiesa at UFC 223 back in March, but the bout was called off due to Chiesa getting a cut on his forehead due to Conor McGregor’s infamous bus attack.
Fans believe Pettis has faded and is well past his prime however coach Duke Roufus believes fans will see a different Showtime against Chiesa at UFC 226.
“This year, Anthony’s learned more about fighting, being a veteran, being a master, and focusing,” Roufus told MMAJunkie radio. “These six months has been more legendary than (the last three years). He’s made up for lost time, and I’m expecting a special Anthony Pettis to show up on July 7th.”
Roufus used the analogy of Rocky III to describe Pettis’s current situation.
“As ‘Apollo’ said, ‘We got civilized,’” Roufus said.
“He’s got that dog back in the fight, that faith, that look, that aggression, and that hunger,” he added. “Unfortunately, it happens (that fighters lose their edge). ‘Rocky’ movies are more realistic than people know.”
“For me, if he makes a comeback, it will be one of the most triumphant things I’ve ever done in my life.”