The UFC lost one of its former champions and most popular fighters when Anthony Pettis signed a contract last December to join the Professional Fighters League, citing the promoter’s structured season and $1 million payday to each division’s winner. 

Pettis, 34, won his first mixed martial arts title in World Extreme Cagefighting, winning the circuit’s lightweight championship in Dec. 2010 with one of the sport’s most iconic moments, the Showtime Kick, which knocked out Benson Henderson in the closing seconds of their closely fought bout. After WEC merged with the UFC, Pettis again won a lightweight belt in July 2013, which he held until March 2015. 

Pettis’ first fight in the PFL will be the headliner against Clay Collard on April 23 in Las Vegas, where he will begin his journey to unseat the weight class’ two-time champion, Natan Schulte. The Milwaukee native remains active in the city’s martial arts scene, owning Taekwondo academies and having recently started the Showtime Group, a fighters management company.