Pettis: Losing streak put me in a ‘dark’ place

Anthony Pettis has opened up about the “dark” period he went through during his recent three-fight losing streak. 

Pettis’ downward spiral began with him losing his lightweight title to Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 185 in March last year. 

After that, the 29-year-old was made to earn another title fight, but things didn’t go according to plan as he lost to Eddie Alvarez via split decision and Edson Barboza via unanimous decision. 

Having gone from being the champion in the lightweight division, Pettis quickly found himself struggling to stay afloat after three successive losses. 

In a bid to resurrect his career, ‘Showtime’ opted to move down to the featherweight division and not only made an encouraging start, but also snapped his losing streak by defeating Charles Oliveira via submission in the third round of their bout at UFC on FOX 21 in August. 

"I was depressed. I was like, 'This is what I do. This is what I pride myself on — [being] the champ of the world. Now I've lost three in a row,'" Pettis told ESPN. "It's a weird place to be at. You find out a lot about yourself when you lose. You find out how good you really are."

After losing three fights in a row, people began to question whether Pettis had peaked. But, what was worse was the fact that the Milwaukee native started to doubt himself. 

"You still have that thought in the back of your head — that feeling of losing," Pettis said. "It haunts you. It's one of the things I hate feeling and I felt it three times in a row. For a whole year I lost. It was a sh—y feeling, but I feel like for now, I have the first win under my belt for a new weight class and a new light. I'm having fun training again and I'm injury free."

All three of his losses came via decision and Pettis used this to make some adjustments to his game before deciding to head down to the featherweight division. 

"At this level of the game, it's a game of inches and centimeters," Pettis said. "Anybody can beat anybody on any given day. If you have an off night, there goes the fight.

"I just feel like every time I went out there, there were a couple of small mistakes that cost me the fight. I didn't get knocked out, I didn't get submitted. It was just decisions and output, I think. So we just focused on the output, focused on not letting these guys hold me on the cage [like Alvarez did.]"

Pettis now has a chance to make his presence felt in the lightweight division as he will take on Max Holloway for the interim featherweight title at UFC 206 on Saturday. If he were to emerge victorious, he would face champion Jose Aldo in a title unification bout. 

However, Pettis acknowledged that he is the underdog heading into his bout with Holloway, who has won his last nine fights. 

"When you are the underdog, you have nothing to lose," Pettis said. "People expect you to lose. If I go out there with a dominant performance, everyone is going to remember why I was the champ at one point."

Despite Holloway’s impressive record, Pettis admitted that he will come into the fight with a lot of confidence as he won his last fight against Oliveira. 

"I'm way stronger. Oliveira is probably the biggest guy in the division [and] when he hit me, I didn't feel it. I wasn't hurt," Pettis added. "Wrestling wise, he couldn't take me down. McGregor dominated [Holloway] from the southpaw stance, and as long as Max can't come forward, he doesn't build that confidence. I've got to be the bigger guy out there and push him around."