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Anthony Pettis’s Showtime Fighting Championship Coming to UFC Fight Pass in 2022

Welcome to The Weekly Takedown, Sports Illustrated’s newest look at MMA. Every week, this column will offer insight and information on the most noteworthy stories in the fight world.

Anthony Pettis is bringing his new promotion, Showtime Fighting Championship, to the UFC Fight Pass in 2022.

“I built a name on Showtime–the flashy moves, the kicks off the cage, the big knockouts,” Pettis said. “The fans know that when I fight, there is a show going on, and that’s what I’m going to do with my cards. And our deal with Fight Pass is huge for us. Now you can follow someone’s entire career and watch them develop into a champion.”

With another year on his PFL deal, the 34-year-old Pettis remains active in the cage. He also believes this is the opportune time to launch Showtime Fighting Championship, which debuts on Feb. 11 in Lakeland, Fla. at the RP Funding Center.

“I always knew I was going to do this,” Pettis said. “I made the LLC four years ago, and I knew the only name for it would be Showtime.

“I have one more fight to finalize on the card, and all those matchups will be announced soon. This is going to be all about the next generation of fighters. We have a great team in place, and I need that, especially since I’m still fighting. But the timing is now, and everything is working out just right.”

Anthony Pettis.

Anthony Pettis.

After putting together back-to-back victories in the Octagon in 2020, Pettis left the UFC and signed with the PFL. Despite his status as a perennially elite competitor, he was met with obstacles in his first two PFL fights, both of which were losses.

“It’s been a different energy,” said Pettis, a former UFC lightweight champion. “I left the UFC on two wins, fighting the best of the best. Mentally, I know I’m better than what I showed these past two fights. I’m doing another season of PFL, and I’m starting my training now. My next fight will be in April, and then I’ll have eight weeks in between fights. That’s different from the way I would typically train between fights with recovery and weight maintenance.

“The guy who became champ [Raush Manfio], I lost to him in a very close split decision. I know my skill level, I just need to refine my approach. If I can pull this off next year, I’ll be one of the first guys to have three different belts in three different organizations. Plus, I’ll be starting my own promotion. It’s going to be a fun 2022.”

Anthony Pettis on boxing Jake Paul: “I’m a million percent serious about boxing”

After watching Jake Paul knockout Tyron Woodley this past weekend, Pettis is also ready to make a statement in boxing. And as for an opponent, he is open to a bout against Paul.

“I’ve actually been training with Jorge Capetillo, who is the trainer for Tyson Fury,” Pettis said. “The PFL season runs from April to October or November. This is my last season with them, then I’ll be a free agent. There is a lot of opportunity for me in terms of what’s next, and I’m a million percent serious about boxing.”

Pettis trained with Woodley for years as teammates at Roufusport, and he holds the former UFC welterweight champion in extremely high regard. Yet he was not surprised that Paul defeated Woodley on two separate occasions.

“Jake Paul understands the science of boxing,” Pettis said. “When you put a guy in there against him who doesn’t have that, the boxer will win. Tyron is one of my teammates, but those fights showed me that the guy who studies boxing longer will win.”

Jake Paul knocks out Tyron Woodley in the sixth round on Dec. 18.

Jake Paul.

Another teammate from Roufusport who is creating buzz on a weekly basis is Phil Brooks, best known as CM Punk. Pettis has watched as Punk has brought nonstop energy to wrestling since his debut last August in AEW.

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“That’s my boy,” Pettis said. “I love what he’s doing in AEW. He’s one of the best entertainers in the world. And I know why he’s so successful. I’ve seen him train. I know his dedication. He’s a real genuine guy and deserves all of his success.”

Pettis has spent his entire adult life devoted to MMA. The knowledge he has acquired over the past 14 years led him to create his management group, Showtime Group, which has practically served as a precursor to starting his own promotion.

“Showtime Fighting Championship has been a work in progress for a long time, and it connects to my management group,” Pettis said. “I started my management group because I wanted to help the guys in my gym with their careers and the path they should take, even help with negotiations. I’ve been in the game for a very long time, and I learned a lot at a young age. Now I’m able to help teammates and even my brother, who is a champion now.”

Pettis clearly taught his brother Sergio about spectacular finishes. Back in 2010, Pettis left the fight world in awe with his “Showtime” kick–running up the cage, jumping off it, then landing an airborne switch kick in a bout against Benson Henderson. Earlier this month, Sergio Pettis escaped what appeared to be certain defeat when he KO’d Kyoji Horiguchi with an outrageous spinning backfist in a successful defense of his Bellator bantamweight title.

“That was his ‘Showtime’ kick,” Pettis sai. “It was a title fight, coming down to the end, and he pulled it off. Anybody can win a fight, but who can make the fans remember and still talk about what happened in that fight? My ‘Showtime’ kick is 11 years old, and it’s still one of the biggest highlights in MMA history. It’s something I’ll be proud of for the rest of my life. My brother needed that, and he got it.”

Pettis’ next goal is to build a collection of emerging MMA stars from the ground up. He plans to do so by bringing in exciting fighters and attacking the market with big shows.

“We’re not looking to get boring fights,” said Pettis. “Showtime Championship Fighting allows fans to follow fighters throughout their whole career, all the way through their development and journey. We want to show off the next big names. We’re going east coast to start, Midwest, and then the west coast, and then Texas to finish. So we’re going to show off these fights to a wide variety of people all around the country.

“We’re going to showcase the next generation of champions in Showtime. This is what you want to see in mixed martial arts.”

Shortage of elite heavyweights on display this past weekend

Will Derrick Lewis defeat Cyril Gane at UFC 265?

Derrick Lewis

Derrick Lewis annihilated Chris Daukaus this past Saturday night at the Apex in Las Vegas. With the win, Lewis broke the UFC record for most knockout wins (13). His performance also served as a reminder that there is a serious shortage of elite heavyweights.

UFC’s heavyweight division features reigning champion Francis Ngannou and interim champ Ciryl Gane. Former two-time champ Stipe Miocic is the second-ranked heavyweight. Despite his advancing age (39), Miocic is a real threat to win the title for a third time. There is also the possibility that Jon Jones finally makes his UFC heavyweight debut, but there is clearly no hurry to make that happen. Lewis is ranked third in the division, and while he did get outclassed by Gane, he does hold a win against Ngannou. That collection of heavyweights is clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the division, a point Lewis emphasized as he pounded seventh-ranked Daukaus in a fight that did not extend beyond the first round.

Even with the loss, Daukaus did not drop in the rankings. That is because no one beneath him in the standings was going to jump him. There is hope that Tai Tuivasa can continue his winning ways and elevate himself to title contention, but for now, no other heavyweight belongs in that elite standing. Fourth-ranked Curtis Blaydes falls just short, as do Alexander Volkov (fifth) and Jairzinho Rozenstruik (sixth).

If Daukaus had won on Saturday, it could have kickstarted a changing of the guard in the heavyweight division. But that was not the case, and the future of the division will be decided by the same five men.

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Justin Barrasso can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.