Anthony Pettis thinks Nate Diaz downplaying beef ‘is weird,’ predicts UFC 241 knockout


ANAHEIM, Calif. – Anthony Pettis thinks it’s a bit strange that Nate Diaz has dropped any semblance of a personal grudge going into UFC 241. However, he’s cool with it.

When the matchup between Pettis (22-8 MMA, 9-7 UFC) and Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC) was first announced for UFC 241, which takes place Saturday at Honda Center, a years-old storyline was pushed as promotional fuel for the contest.

The fact “Showtime” beat one of Diaz’s good friends and training partners Gilbert Melendez at UFC 181 in December 2015 definitely stirred the pot, and since then every run-in has been filled with tension. Moreover, Diaz said he felt the UFC has granted Pettis opportunities he deserved for himself.

Pettis believes those comments were born out of jealousy. Diaz insists he’s not jealous and has “no beef” with his upcoming opponent, and while that caught the former UFC champ off guard, but he said he’s willing to go with it.

“Obviously he’s not jealous now,” Pettis told MMA Junkie at Thursday’s UFC 241 media day. “He got what he wanted. That fame and notoriety that I had that he was jealous of at the time, he got it now. I feel like it would be stupid for him to say he’s jealous of me now because that’s what he wanted. But it is weird because we definitely had some some beef. But if there’s no beef then it is what it is. I’ll shake his hand after the fight and we can go and hang out after I solve this.”

Pettis enters UFC 241 with an unwavering confidence in his ability. The former 155-pound titleholder moved up to welterweight earlier this year and scored a spectacular knockout of Stephen Thompson at UFC on ESPN+ 5 in March, setting him up for the showdown with Diaz.

The word from Pettis’ coaches and teammates is that his preparation for this weekend’s contest was the best of his more than 12-year career. Those are lofty statements, but Pettis said they resinate in truth.

“I found this mental sport where I just took the blame for everything,” Pettis said. “I stopped pushing the blame on everybody and I’m at peace with where I’m at in my career and I’m happy again. Everything is falling into place and the opponents are lining up perfectly. Obviously ‘Wonderboy’ was a hard task and we got through that and now Diaz. Obviously he’s a tough dude, but he’s not ‘Wonderboy.’ I’m just ready.”

Pettis said the showdown with Diaz feels like one of the biggest fights of his career, even surpassing his three UFC championship bouts. He feels the excitement from the combat sports world, and he intends to deliver something special.

“I’m predicting a knockout,” Pettis said. “I’m going to find those legs, I’m going to find that body and I’m going to find that chin. Or a submission because he’s going to get hit. I’m hitting this guy on the chin and if he tries to do a takedown dumbly I’ll guillotine him too. But I want a knockout.”

If Pettis does manage to defeat Diaz at UFC 241, he would be on a high that could take his career to a special place. He’s already been scheduled to fight for UFC titles across two divisions, and while pushing that number to three would be nice, he said he wants it to happen naturally.

“At this point in my career I’m not chasing that title shot,” Pettis said. “It will happen the it’s supposed to happen. All these guys are stepping out of character to get these title shots, I’m just being me and fighting.”

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