MILWAUKEE — Sergio Pettis is currently the Bellator Bantamweight champion and he will defend his title for the first time Friday.
He's come a long way from making his pro debut a decade ago, and is now emerging from the shadow of his title winning brother, Anthony "Showtime" Pettis.
Now at 28-years-old, Pettis now fully embraces his last name, but has a different opinion on his nickname "The Phenom".
"You know, I'm not the Phenom no more," Pettis said. "I'm just SP. Just Sergio Pettis. Yeah, I got some plans later on with the initials, but just SP now. I'm too old to be the Phenom," Pettis said.
Pettis said he faced a lot of challenges growing up.
"I'm proud of being a Pettis, and just a lot of adversity we had to face in our life," Pettis said. "We had a rough upbringing and gone through some things, and a lot of that paved who we were later on. (I am) very thankful for the people my mom put in our lives, for making us do martial arts. It's been a blessing, man. This whole martial arts experience changed me for the better."
Pettis said he doesn't feel like a champion yet.
"I had my belt put away. It was supposed to get mounted," Pettis said. "I haven't seen it for like two or three months. I'm kind of hopefully it's still around. I really haven't put much though behind it. I feel like I'm not the champ yet. I got a lot more to prove before I could claim that title."
Pettis said he had a lot of thoughts going through his mind when he became the champ, such as the murder of his father when he was 10-years-old and the love he has for his mother Annette.
"When I won that belt, it was just more of an overall feeling for my family," Pettis said. "For me, my last name. My mom had a dream a long time ago, years before we competed, that two of her sons were going to have medals in something. It was pretty cool. They made a post after I won my belt. It was a picture of Anthony with his belt and a picture of me with my belt. I was like, maybe that's what she meant years ago. It's cool to live that out."
Pettis' fire, motivation, and drive is as hot as ever. His pro-record is a sparkling 21-5, and he is currently 8th in Bellator's pound for pound rankings.