ANTHONY PETTIS emotionally hailed his late father Eugene ahead of his next fight.
Pettis headlines the first Professional Fighters League semi-final of the year, in a rematch against Scotland's Stevie Ray on Friday.
The bout comes a week after boxer Danny Garcia was reduced to tears after winning his comeback fight following a mental health battle.
Garcia was supported by his dad and trainer Angel, a father-son-bondPettis relates to.
The former UFC champion was only 16 when his dad Eugene was stabbed to death by a would-be robber at a friend’s home in 2003.
Pettis said: "Man, just watching Danny Garcia fight, him and his pops, the way that they are and the way he is in his interviews, my dad was just like him.
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"You know, Puerto Rican dude, very outspoken, good fighter in his own right.
"I think that's where me and my brother got our fighting skills from, our dad.
"But he was killed obviously in a house robbery when I was a kid, so I missed out on that. But it made me that man I am today."
A tearful Garcia, 34, bravely spoke out to reveal the mental fight he faced to get back into the ring before beating Jose Benavidez Jr, 30.
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He said: "I was going through some mental things. I felt a little dark.
"I went through some anxiety and depression and I did my best to stay strong.
"The pressure of life, the pressure of boxing, the pressure of being a good dad – I'm just letting it out now.
"It weighed on me for a year and a half. The only way to get better is to fight and win.
"That's what I did tonight, I came in and fought my heart out.
"I still battle some days. I have some dark days but I try my best to stay positive."
He was killed obviously in a house robbery when I was a kid, so I missed out on that. But it made me that man I am today.
Garcia's bravery was hailed by Pettis, 35, who has endured the same ups and downs in his own career.
"As fighters, we're looked at as like these macho guys where if anything happens you just make it through," Pettis said.
"But a lot of emotions come through to these fights.
"Like my career, I was on top of the world, on a Wheaties box, then I lose three fights in a row right after that.
"There's a lot of emotions that go into that.
"A lot of dark times, I've had some dark times in my career, I've had some dark times in my career where my support system really helped me through.
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"I think it's great that people are talking out about it. Me and Danny are good friends, I know what he goes through too.
"There's a lot of pressure on us as athletes and as fighters and we kind of get overlooked in that sense."
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