MTV has created a hot new commodity with its new series, The World of Jenks. The series follows 24-year-old documentary filmmaker, Andrew Jenks, as he seeks to spend a week with an individual completely different from himself in order to better his understanding of people and the lives they choose to lead. In the latest installment of the World of Jenks, Andrew moves in with Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, who is a young MMA fighter currently competing in the WEC’s Lightweight division.
With many of the programs on MTV centering on pregnant teens, wild hair gelled teens chasing tail, and men inflicting pain on themselves for fun, it is a welcome change to find a show with heart and purpose. With a show centering on a professional MMA fighter you would think that it would glorify the battle and be a highlight reel of kicks and punches.
However, nothing could be further from the truth with this series, as the World of Jenks opted to highlight the man behind the fight, giving us a true insight into the life and struggles of a young MMA fighter.
Pettis shares a tragic story from his past with Andrew about the passing of his father:
“He was killed in a house robbery and he was stabbed four or five times in the chest...When I have nightmares, that’s the image I have in my head.”
With the void being left by his Father's tragic passing, it was up to Anthony to help the family financially and as a role model.
Role model is something that Anthony takes very seriously. The camera crew gives us an inside look that Anthony does not forget where he comes from as well as the people that helped to get him there.
In one scene, Anthony participates in a weekly Tae-Kwon Do class that he teaches in order to give back to the youth of Milwaukee and to hopefully inspire them to follow their dreams. We also see Anthony’s positive influence on his younger brother, Sergio, who travels along with his brother, who in light of their father’s passing has become Sergio's idol and mentor all in one package.
Andrew also gets the unique perspective of the mother of a fighter when he meets Annette, Anthony’s mom. Annette shares how she simply can’t watch Anthony fight live and how she just does not want to see her son being hit or hurt in the cage.
In a truly emotional moment, Jenks is invited to visit the grave of Anthony’s father in order to reflect before his big fight. Anthony confides in Jenks, telling him how he misses his father and how he hopes to make him proud and focus on his mother who is still around and hopes to make her proud as well. As tears stream down the fighter's face, you realize that even for men who fight for a living have the emotions and vulnerabilities that most of us posses.
Jenks states, “You win, you lose on Saturday night it probably doesn’t matter to him at all. You take care of Sergio, you take care of your mom you do a lot for your family.”
A message from a relative stranger hits home with Pettis before making his trip for his fight.
In the hotel room leading up to his battle with Danny Castillo we hear from two teammates of Pettis. We hear words from Duke Rufus, who trains Pettis, as well as UFC Heavyweight fighter Pat Berry, who is at the fight to help corner his teammate.
In an attempt to educate the rookie experiencing MMA for the first time, Pat Berry shines in his explanation of the sport:
“This isn’t a team this is one giant family. There is so much more to this than punching and kicking I mean we get in the ring and it’s not two guys fighting it’s a gang vs. a gang. I mean I know how it is for me when I get in the ring I’ve got my Mother, my Brother, my Dad, my coach, my teammates, my friends and everyone who’s supporting me so every time I punch somebody it’s like 50 fists hitting you in the head. It’s more than just punching and kicking man.”
With such passionate words spoken from a friend and teammate, Andrew was starting to understand our sport and the reasons for competition on a greater level. After the training, weight cutting, and the emotional ride with the family, Andrew helps Anthony walk out for his fight.
Watching intently are his fans, his loving family, and a documentary filmmaker who has a new appreciation for our sport. The crowd finally erupts when Pettis lands a high kick to his opponent's head finishing him off with some ground and pound. Anthony celebrates with his family and his new friend, Andrew, before continuing on his journey.
We are months past that victory and now see Pettis on the cusp of a title shot against WEC Lightweight champion Ben Henderson. All viewers of this unique documentary journey should have a greater understanding of MMA and the men and stories that make it great.
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