Anthony Pettis: ‘Dumb mistake’ led to Stevie Ray loss, seeks revenge in PFL playoff rematch

·3 min read

LAS VEGAS – Anthony Pettis admits a critical error led to his Submission of the Year candidate loss to Stevie Ray at 2022 PFL 5.

Pettis (25-13), a former UFC and WEC champion, was largely having his way with Ray (24-10) on the feet during their PFL lightweight regular season bout. Then the action spilled to the ground, and “Showtime” got caught in a modified body triangle that forced him to tap out in a rather stunning outcome.

“I made a dumb mistake,” Pettis told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Sunday’s UFC Fight Pass Invitational 2 event. “I initiated that takedown sequence and I caught him in a single leg, but his knee was between my legs, and instead of fighting for the under hooks, I let him whizzer me hard and take my back. In my head, I’m like, ‘I’m going to spin around and get on top like I always do.’ … I’ve just never been in that position. He has the body triangle, kind of modified, though, it was more around my hips and kind of my knee area.

“So when I went for the turn, I made it worse on myself I kind of turned on my spine. Then he went over my head and put so much pressure on my rib. Then in that format, I knew I was fighting again Aug. 5, so I’m like, ‘Bro, if this pops then I’m pretty much done.”

The upside for Pettis is that, despite the loss, he was still locked into the No. 1 seed in the PFL lightweight standings due to a first-round win in his regular-season opener. With Ray sliding into the No. 4 seed, an immediate rematch will happen between the two on Aug. 5.

That gives Pettis an opportunity to avenge the loss just six weeks after it happened.

“I love it,” Pettis said. “I love this PFL format, no lie. It’s probably the hardest format in combat sports because I’ve just got to keep making weight and fighting every two months. This one I’ve got six weeks between fights. I love the format, I get the rematch and also still have the possibility of being the champion.”

In addition to an in-fight lapse of judgement, Pettis said he brought the wrong mentality into the cage with Ray for their initial meeting. He said overthought the scheduling between the regular season and playoffs, and as a result did not fight as freely as he should’ve. He paid the consequences for it, but promised he won’t make the same mistake twice.

“I’ve never had a rematch and I’ve never had a fight where I couldn’t get hurt,” Pettis said. “I went into the last fight thinking, ‘Just don’t get hurt and get the win.’ That’s just the wrong mindset to have in this sport. You can’t go out there and play anything safe. I just got to go out there and try to kill him. I was whooping his ass striking. … I initiated a dumb takedown. It was kind of an amateur move on my half.”

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