Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, 33, announced his departure from the Ultimate Fighting Championship on December 22, 2020. On December 23, 2020, the Professional Fighters League announced the signing of the professional mixed martial artist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States to a multi-year deal.
Pettis will be fighting in the 155-pound lightweight division upon his PFL debut in 2021. While he did not call out anyone from his new promotion, he did mention PFL Lightweight Champion Natan “Russo” Schulte, 28, of Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil.
Schulte holds a professional MMA record of 20 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw. Pettis, who is of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent, has 24 wins and 10 losses.
“I am really looking forward to this next big challenge after signing with the PFL to compete in the lightweight division.” Pettis said. “I’m super impressed with what the PFL has built, how they are growing the sport and the amazing talent they have added. I’ve been watching the Brazilian guy Schulte who is the champion and he is really good but there isn’t anyone I’m scared of.”
The PFL’s 2021 season will begin on April 23, 2020 on ESPN2. The remaining regular season events will take place on April 29, 2020, on May 6, 2020, on June 10, 2020, on June 17, 2020 and on June 25, 2020.
“The season format is great,” Pettis said. “I think it will be an amazing new journey for me and to get to wrap it up over the course of one year will be awesome. I can’t wait to get another world championship to add to my collection.”
Considered one of the pound-for-pound greats, Pettis is known as one of the most acrobatic fighters in the world. Equipped with lightning quick speed and unrelenting power, he was responsible for one of the most iconic moments in MMA history when he ran off the cage and threw a flying kick, now known as the Showtime Kick, that connected with his opponent’s head en route to claiming his first world title.
The former UFC fighter is one of the most mainstream fighters in mixed martial arts history. In 2014, he became the first MMA fighter to ever be featured on a Wheaties cereal box.
“I am excited to announce that the PFL has signed two-time world champion, Anthony Pettis,” PFL chief executive officer Peter Murray said. “Not only is Anthony a transcendent athlete within the sport of MMA but he is also an innovator in the cage who is known for his charismatic fighting style and determination to win.”
“I am confident that Anthony will bring that wow factor into every matchup he participates in over the course of our season format, and we’re excited for him to join the PFL family,” Pettis continued. “As we get closer to the start of PFL’s 2021 season, we are looking forward to showcasing Anthony’s talents on ESPN and around the world via PFL’s global distribution network.”