Sergio Pettis says crazy Kyoji Horiguchi KO is just motivation to work harder: “I got dominated”

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Sergio Pettis says crazy Kyoji Horiguchi KO is just motivation to work harder: “I got dominated”


Sergio Pettis needed a miracle in the championship rounds at Bellator 272.

Fortunately, defending bantamweight champion Bellator stumbled upon just that.

Pettis pulled off one of the most spectacular returns of the year on Friday night at Bellator 272 when he knocked out RIZIN bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi with a back punch in the fourth round to cement his first successful defense. Bellator belt. The remarkable victory from behind gave Pettis the most brutal climax of his 27-fight career, and afterwards even he was a bit blown away by how the fight turned out.

“I’m beaten right now,” Pettis said at the Bellator 272 post-fight press conference on Friday. “From the first to the four laps, he caught up to me. He frustrated me. He gave me some interesting moves, back-and-forth play, and I had to face a lot of adversity tonight to get that finish. And it was perfect. It was beautiful.

“I only have, what, is it like my fourth or fifth knockout of my career?” So that’s been 27 fights and to see this kind of thing finally happen, it’s beautiful, man.

Pettis (22-5) admitted he had struggled to decipher Horiguchi’s “goofy style” all night, and the final statistics of the fight showed exactly what he meant. Horiguchi outscored Pettis in both total strikes (73-19) and the strikeout battle (4-0). He had Pettis swinging through the air for extended periods of time in the fight and apparently was able to take down the 28-year-old American at will, racking up control time in each of the four rounds.

Pettis said the situation reminded him of the recent boxing match between Terence Crawford and Shawn Porter, which saw Crawford land a monster 10th round knockout after being told between rounds by his coaches that he was down in the fight. . Pettis explained that his own coaches gave him the same push ahead of the fourth round, and that’s ultimately what prompted him to come out more aggressively and devastatingly separate Horiguchi from his consciousness with the end-of-fight blow. .

“Once that fell out I wanted to hit him with another blow – and I realized, oh, he really came out,” Pettis said. “But it was just my trainer [Scott] Cushman too, he would tell me to jab, jab away, and every time he gets thrown, he reacts. And I think rounds one through four is what made him feel comfortable going out without really defending himself. So I threw that kick, failed, and its release allowed me to hit that spinning fist.

“One thing that I missed for a while was my confidence, and I felt like if I still had that trait tonight, I wouldn’t have done this job in the fourth or fourth. in the fifth round. I was mentally a little frustrated there, but I never let it destroy my positivity there too. I knew I could do something great, and I had two rounds to accomplish this.

The knockout itself made for a frightening spectacle, as Horiguchi was away for an extended period of time and ultimately left the cage on a stretcher to be taken to hospital.

Pettis admitted he wasn’t exactly happy to see this side of his first career knockout, but he also knows that results like this are just part of the game.

“It’s not something I want to do,” Pettis said. “I don’t want to hurt anyone so much that they’re unconscious like that or have damage later in their life. So for sure that’s part of the job unfortunately, but that’s how it is. In the end, that’s a little wrong to say, but it’s better him than me, so that’s how I have to be when I’m here. I’m a very nice person and a nice human being, but he would have done the same to me.

“Honestly, it just makes me want to work harder,” added Pettis. “I was dominated the first four laps. I have stuff that I need to work on, and I have a really great knockout, but there is some stuff that I need for my career for longevity, and that’s what I’m here for. I hope to have another eight to ten years in me.

Pettis and Horiguchi will now both enter the eight-man field for Bellator’s next bantamweight grand prix, where Pettis will be invited to defend his title up to three more times in a tournament that holds a grand prix of a million dollars for its winner.

A rematch between the two is certainly a possibility depending on how the medium comes off, but Pettis has made it clear from the get-go that he’s not looking to pick his enemies.

“I’m not here to pick anyone, man,” Pettis said. “I’m going to let them choose my opponent for me. I’m not the boss of this. They will tell me who I am fighting and I will never say no to a fight.

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