What would you call a high school boy fighting experienced men at the weekends? Sounds crazy, but that’s how Sergio Jerome Pettis started out! An MMA child prodigy – Sergio Pettis nicknamed “the Phenom” is an American mixed martial artist who, before joining Bellator MMA competed in the UFC in both the bantamweight and flyweight divisions.
Pettis was born on 18th August, 1993 in Milwaukee, the largest city in the state of Wisconsin. He, along with his elder brother Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (former UFC Lightweight Champion) has a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, and a black belt in Muay Thai kickboxing (Roufusport). These two training styles helped him to climb his way toward a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Everyone was in disbelief about his first amateur fight when a 15 year-old Pettis stunned his 22 year-old opponent, winning via a first round head kick knockout. Unlike his colleagues who were either partying or relaxing on the weekends, the future “Phenom” – the then amateurish, Milwaukee native, was fighting grown, experienced men on the weekends! Those were just the right stepping stones needed to lead him to where he stands today.
His first professional fight took place in Canadian Fighting Championship 7 on 10th September 2011 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, and proved to be a highly engaging affair.
He portrayed sharp focus, composure, endurance and most importantly the patience for the right moment when he TKO’d his opponent Kyle Vivian with a vicious head kick right to his jaw, rushing to strike his head before the referee swiftly intervened to end the match.
An unexpected event occurred when he was only ten as his father Eugene Pettis, Jr., was stabbed by a robber while he was at a friend’s house. It was at this stage that he decided to live a more mature life – a decision that has stuck with him throughout life.
This demeanour is clearly visible in his character and behaviour as the wisdom in his speech sounds way ahead of his years.
Sergio Pettis is trained by Duke Roufus, the renowned former American heavyweight kickboxer and head coach at Roufusport competition team in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
“The Phenom” has religiously followed his training regime for years which has, of course been instrumental in paving a successful MMA career.
“Taekwondo helps with confidence and leadership”, Pettis told Bleacher Report journalist, Scott Harris.
Persistence in his arduous work ethic, has seen Pettis achieve 20 wins with 3 knockouts and 4 submissions to date.
Witness then, this iconic fighter who makes his opponents crumble with his savage jabs, hard-hitting knees, violent elbows and ferocious head kicks. Without further ado, let’s get into Sergio “The Phenom” Pettis’ Top 5 MMA Finishes! (in descending order)
- Vs. James Porter – NAFC Battle in the Ballroom (Sept. 28, 2013)
- Vs. Tom McKenna – LOF 53: Memorium (June 16, 2012)
- Vs. John Moraga – UFC Fight Night 103 (Jan. 15, 2017)
- Vs. Brandon Moreno – UFC Fight Night 114 (Aug. 5, 2017)
- Ricky Bandejas – Bellator 242 (July 24, 2020)
The smouldering intensity in the eyes of Pettis was evident from the get go.
At 15 seconds into the first round, Porter attacked and grappled Sergio’s legs for a takedown, but his attempt lacked authority and Pettis was quick to regain ground without any damage.
At a minute and 4 seconds into the same round, Pettis took control and forced a guillotine choke, applying immense pressure on the neck and throat of Porter. He aggressively bent the neck of Porter inwards to block his vision, a move that left him looking helpless.
Shortly after, Pettis, with a breathtaking display of strength, rolled Potter onto his head and locked in a Kimura at 2 minutes 34 seconds of round 1. Potter instantly tapped out and the referee intervened to break the hold declaring Sergio the winner via submission. This finish was ranked the 96th best MMA Submission of the Year in 2013.
Initially, Pettis stalked his opponent like a viper and at 16 seconds into round 1 hurled a low calf kick. McKenna quickly retracted back to his space after throwing a punch in an effort to keep off The Phenom’s radar.
Tom grappled him for a takedown whilst Sergio defended by throwing a jab to his head.
Now on the ground, Sergio on his back pretty much stayed in control, locking up Tom’s body with his legs, and looking for an arm bar. McKenna soon escapes from the hold, hurling a hammer fist towards Pettis.
Pettis defends himself well using upkicks and a trip takedown dropping Tom who gets up again quickly. Pettis also gets to his feet quickly showing excellent agility.
With a solid head kick at 3 minutes and 35 seconds into round 1, Sergio then forces his opponent down with an intense choke rendering McKenna unconscious. The referee intervenes to call the end. This match sits as the 89th Best MMA Submission of the Year 2012.
A hawk-eyed Sergio appeared full of determination and focus.
As the match began both combatants kept switching their stances and at 90 seconds into round 1, Pettis found an opening and quickly hurled a hook towards Moraga.
Shortly after, Pettis unleashed a flurry of cross punches with aggressive force causing Moraga to lose his balance on the edge of the cage.
A minute into round 2, Moraga grappled and attempted to take Pettis down but “The Phenom” fought back by striking Moraga’s lower torso.
In the third round at 2 minutes 25, Pettis took down Moraga, executing a leg lock. Being in such a dominant position Pettis hurled jabs and hammer fists to the face of Moraga. By the end of round 3 all could see that it was Pettis who remained dominant the entire match to emerge the victor via unanimous decision.
Arena Ciudad de Mexico, in Mexico City hosted the main event of the night: Sergio vs Moreno. The two of them were jockeying for a UFC flyweight title shot, with Moreno, a great submission artist appearing overtly more aggressive in this bout.
In round 1, Moreno caught a kick thrown by Pettis and took him to the ground in search of the rear naked choke. He seems to want to give “The Phenom” a taste of his own medicine by throwing quick punches and continuously switching stances.
By round 3 Pettis still looked sharp as his onslaught via head kicks and furious jabs towards Moreno grew in intensity, whilst Moreno threw punches comparatively aimlessly.
A head kick by Moreno was caught by Pettis which left him fumbling to the ground. Less than a minute into the round, Pettis lands kicks and jabs just before the bell sounds.
Incessant, furious jabs in the fourth round by Moreno were unable to penetrate Pettis’ defence. In the fifth and final round, Sergio throws a couple of chest kicks and vicious right-hand jabs and they mix it up on the feet as the round finishes.
The official decision declares Sergio Pettis the winner by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-46, 48-46). Both fighters fought their hearts out in this bout which makes it a must watch for all!
The main event, Bellator 242 saw Sergio Pettis and Ricky Bandejas lock horns.
Pettis assessed his opponent sniper-like, observing his foot movement to waste no time at all in unleashing a jab.
Initially, in the first round, Pettis had ended up grounded but his impeccable defense techniques guaranteed no damage. Gaining ground, Pettis then started to viciously attack Bandejas’ feet.
In the second round, Pettis continued pilling on Muay Thai-style kickboxing calf kicks on Bandejas.
In the third round The Phenom’s spinning back fist and leg kicks proved just a bit too quick and powerful for Ricky to react to as the match reached its finishing moments.
This Friday night, Sergio Pettis won the match via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) for this Bantamweight Main Event.