By Raphael Garcia
Younger siblings are often forced to fight their way out of the shadow of the older children in the family. For Sergio Pettis, that is both a literal and figurative statement. The 23-year-old athlete steps into the Octagon for the eighth time at UFC Fight Night 103 with an opportunity to earn his biggest win since joining the UFC. And at the same time, that win will push him one step further out of the shadow of his older brother, Anthony Pettis.
Sergio was expected to be a runaway success when he joined the UFC in 2013. He was riding a 9-0 win streak over two years, and his brother was having success at that same point. With the UFC looking to build the flyweight division, the idea was that Pettis would eventually become a contender in that weight class.
That success would not last, as Alex Caceres stepped in to face Pettis as a last minute replacement at UFC on Fox 10. Not only did Pettis lose, but Caceres made Pettis look like he was out of place, negating his early success and ending the fight via rear naked choke. Pettis would get some momentum back by winning two fights in a row, but it would be Ryan Benoit at UFC 185 that would shut down his push, this time stopping Pettis via TKO in the second round.
With those breaks in his success, the hype around Pettis has slowly died down. Even though he’s featured on the main card of this event, the fanfare around what he could or could not become as a fighter has all but disappeared. Coupled with the recent struggles in Anthony’s career, this lack of fanfare has afforded Sergio the opportunity to grow into his abilities while honing his craft. Remember, he’s still a very young competitor who got his start at only 17 years old. The last time he stepped into the cage was back in April at UFC 197, so it will be interesting to see just how much he’s grown during that time frame.
The struggles of the Pettis brothers in recent years have allowed Sergio Pettis to hide in the shadows for a while now. At UFC Fight Night 103 he’s going to emerge from that hiatus with the opportunity to make a statement. The hype has died down, but “The Phenom” can quickly change that with a win punctuated by the trademark flash and style associated with the Pettis name.