After Submission Win over 'Bendo', Coach Says Pettis Is a Blue Belt in BJJ

John Heinis@HeinisHardNewsSenior Analyst ISeptember 3, 2013

Aug 31, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA;  Benson Henderson (left) fights Anthony Pettis during the UFC-164 bout at BMO Harris Bradley Center. at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson has been a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu for just a few months now, but fans of grappling and MMA alike know the fighter for his uncanny submission defense.

That's why it was completely unexpected to see long-time rival Anthony Pettis submit "Bendo" in the first round of their UFC 164 encounter this Saturday, locking up a picture perfect armbar to earn the tap and capture the lightweight gold. 

Pettis, a Roufusport fighter known for his electric striking, obviously has been working on improving his submission game as well. 

The most intriguing part of the whole story is, according to his jiu-jitsu coach, Diego Moraes, "Showtime" is just a blue belt in BJJ, though he has proven he is ready for his purple belt, according to MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz

Anthony Pettis’ coach just told me he’ll promote the UFC champ to purple belt in jiu-jitsu next week. Yes, a blue belt submitted Henderson.

— Guilherme Cruz (@guicruzzz) September 3, 2013

When Cruz asked Moraes what he would do if Pettis tapped UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo, another respected black belt, despite his striking prowess, the instructor joked Pettis may skip wearing his brown belt all together. 

And what if Pettis submits Jose Aldo, another black belt, next? “Well, then I’ll have to give him the black belt already (laughs),” he said.

— Guilherme Cruz (@guicruzzz) September 3, 2013

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the submission-heavy martial art, the belt rank system goes as follows: white, blue, purple, brown and, finally, black. 

Also worth mentioning is that many jiu-jitsu academies across the world typically only promote their students based on the progress they have made training in the gi, as opposed to no-gi, a more MMA-oriented environment. 

Despite a novice to intermediate rank on the ground, Moraes told MMA Fighting yesterday that Pettis "has jiu-jitsu skills to defeat anyone in this division." 

Pettis suffered a knee injury during his title clash with Henderson leaving his return to the Octagon uncertain, though many expect his next opponent to be Aldo. 

Pettis called out Aldo moments after putting on the championship gold Saturday night and subsequent comments by "Scarface's" manager asked Pettis to vacate the title before matching up with the featherweight sensation. 

However, Aldo has since put any notion that he was afraid to fight Pettis to rest, imploring UFC President Dana White to book the fight at any weight he sees fit (via MMA Junkie). 

According to the UFC's official rankings, Pettis is of course the top-ranked lightweight in the world but also cracks the pound-for-pound list at number 8.


John Heinis is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA Editor for