(Props to Fiveknuckles.)
Mixed martial arts can cut the toughest men down, and Forrest Petz knows it.
More than a decade ago, the 36-year-old—never the athlete in his youth—saw video tapes of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and figured, why not?
Fighting out of Midwestern barns all the way up to the UFC, “The Meat Cleaver” was 2-2 in the Octagon and pushing toward the best win of his career against Josh Burkman at UFC 77 in his native Ohio. Petz came out firing strong to open the final round. Seemingly 80 seconds from victory over The Ultimate Fighter veteran, Burkman threw a right-place, right-time left hook that snapped Petz’s head back with enough momentum to send the rest of him to the mat, securing a split decision victory for Burkman in the process.
“The fight I had with Burkman is one I really wish I had back because all I had to do was duck one time and I think I’d have the biggest win of my career,” says Petz.
He received his walking papers as a result and left the UFC with a 2-3 record. But Petz hopes to secure a spot back in a major organization after facing undefeated Ralph Johnson on the under card of Moosin’s Tim Sylvia-Marius Pudzianowski pay-per-view this Friday. The Strong Style Fight Team representative angles for his fourth consecutive victory against an opponent with four finishes in four contests. Despite having more than 20 more fights under his belt, the mild-mannered Petz refuses to overlook his less experienced opponent.
“You gotta take care of the business in front of you,” says Petz, who has never been knocked or stopped on strikes. “If I don’t beat this guy Friday, then I might as well forget about all this stuff.”
The 36-year-old remembers the bout preceding his first UFC stint—a five-round scrap with a promising British prospect named Dan Hardy back in 2006. A broken nose in the first round didn’t stop Petz from walking away victorious.
Celebrating the win in the locker room, teammate Matt Masterson said, “That fight’s gonna do something for ya. Having that win somewhere down the road, that dudes gonna become a name somewhere.”
Watching Hardy challenge for the UFC 170-pound strap this March, Petz sees a long shot in a second go with “The Outlaw.”
“I know he’s always wanted a rematch,” says Petz, noting he could be a “bounce back fight” for the Nottingham-native. “I think right now he’s too high in the rankings to fight an unranked guy like myself, but you never know. One injury and they can look for someone to replace a guy and I’m usually available.”
Petz knows he’d make the most of the opportunity like he did in 2006.
Fresh off his win over Hardy, his manager Monte Cox got the call for Petz to replace Duane Ludwig opposite Sam Morgan at UFC Fight Night 6. He capitalized on the chance and delivered a beating on Morgan that was so severe one judged called it 30-23. He is aware the fight has special lure for its one-sidedness although he critiques the performance because he felt he should have finished “The Squeeze.”
“I’m pretty sure its a record—at least in the UFC—for a three round fight that one of the judges scored it 30-23. I’m pretty sure no one can beat that. I heard of a 30-24 and I think that’s the closest one,” he says with a laugh.
The fight is Petz’s lasting mark on the UFC. With a learn-everything, condition-based philosophy, Petz feels as young as ever and wants to leave behind regional events for another honest go at the bigger shows—another chance to carve his place in the cage.
“I told my coach the other day I was a lot more precise,” he says. “I was bragging about being a precise instrument. I said they should call me ‘The Scalpel.’”