UFC 241: Problems or Not, Anthony Pettis Respects Nate Diaz’s Game

Anthony Pettis discussed his UFC 241 bout with Nate Diaz at the event’s open workouts, and revealed he’d been offered Conor McGregor at MSG.

Anaheim, CA — “It’s a normal week for me. I worked out Monday, I sparred on Monday, hit weights. Normal week.” That’s how Anthony Pettis explained UFC 241’s fight week thus far to reporters including Cageside Press at Wednesday’s open workouts. And a normal week is not the norm, at least for fighters cutting weight.

But for Pettis, those days are in the past. Having made the move to welterweight after spending the bulk of his career at 155lbs, the former champ no longer has to endure being miserable and sweating out the pounds heading into a fight.

Already he’s just a few pounds shy of the welterweight limit. “I did the whole training camp at 85. Then I’m just gradually coming down, making it easy,” he explained Wednesday. “This fight is going to be different from the Wonderboy fight. Wonderboy I had to get bigger, I had to be a brick wall in front of him. This fight I’m going to be elusive, move. It’s showtime, baby!”

The Wonderboy fight, of course, was Pettis’ coming out party at 170lbs, and ended with Pettis winning via knockout. Wonderboy, a.k.a. Stephen Thompson, was a former two-time title challenger in the weight class. No small feat.

Next up, Nate Diaz. Pettis sees the match-up as pretty straight-forward. “It’s not a secret, I’m a kicker. I’m going to go out and kick this guy until he falls down. And he’s a puncher. It’s going to be fun.”

In the past, Diaz spent a fair amount of time ragging on ‘Showtime,’ though that seems to have fizzled of late. “He was talking mad sh*t a long time ago, four years ago. Now that I saw that he’s toned it down, it is what it is. If we fight, we squash this sh*t, I’m good. It sounds like it was jealousy more than actual problems. I was waiting to hear what his real problem was, but watching the Countdown show, he really didn’t have nothing besides the Wheaties guy.”

It’s been years since Pettis adorned the Wheaties box. For his part, Diaz said Wednesday that it was never personal, and more of an issue with fighters getting pushed over him, when Diaz felt he’d put the work in.

Anthony Pettis Wheaties // Mike Mozart (CC)
Anthony Pettis graces the cover of the Wheaties box // Credit: Mike Mozart/JeepersMedia (CC)

In any case, Pettis is all business regardless. “Wonderboy, I consider him a cool-ass dude and now he’s my friend. And we saw how that ended. It doesn’t really matter. I’m professional. When I go out there and perform, that’s what I’m here here to do. I’m here to get my win, and bounce out.”

And he doesn’t need the trash talk to get himself hyped up. Nor do the fans really need it either, he suggested. “Our styles sell fights. He bleeds, he comes straight forward, I bleed, I come straight forward.” What’s not to love?

Pettis was a bit surprised at getting the Diaz fight, mind you. Not surprising, given the Stockton native’s long absence, and history of being difficult to work with. “First it was McGregor, and I was like ‘let’s do it,’ in Madison Square Garden,” Pettis revealed. “Something fell off with that, and then it popped up Nate, and I was just like ‘okay, we’ll see what happens.’ Then he signed the contract, and we’re here.”

Pettis doesn’t know exactly why the McGregor fight fell through, though he noted it was never signed. ‘Showtime’ sounds like he’s open to it in future, but if it doesn’t happen, he’s still “fighting the best in the world.”

“Nate’s one of them guys, that I think he has a huge name, and he’s definitely a tough dude. Even though me and Nate have our problems, I respect his game,” he said.

“He’s a fan favorite fighter. He’s going to come and try to fight me. He’s not going to try holding me down for 15 minutes and sneak over a decision. So I respect that about him,” Pettis added. “But at this point of my career, there’s so many good guys out there. So many good guys. And I’m in the mix. I’m in the Matrix, where I feel good as f*ck.”

Asked where the fight leaves him, given Diaz has been out a bit, but is a fan favorite, Pettis opined that “Nate’s a fan favorite because of one fight, Conor McGregor. Before that, he beat Michael Johnson, he lost to everybody at 155. He had two fights at 170, got his ass whupped. So for me, I’ve got to remind everybody who the f*ck I am.”

That said, he clarified that “Nate’s a fighter. I would never say Nate’s not a fighter. Nate comes out there and he bangs, and he fights. There are holes in his game, and we have seen him exposed, and I doubt that he changes them holes.”

Watch the full UFC 241 open workout press scrum with Anthony Pettis above!