“I’ve been wrestling since I was four years old, and when I was growing up, we traveled a lot for wrestling,” he said. “I didn’t get to leave the country, I didn’t get to go to Abu Dhabi for wrestling, but as far as getting to travel and being on the road a lot, this lifestyle is what I’m used to.”

That doesn’t mean he’s not enjoying the ride, saying he would go back to Abu Dhabi “in a heartbeat” if given the chance. But this weekend, the 30-year-old is back in familiar territory in Las Vegas, where he competed during TUF 28 and defeated castmate Micheal Gillmore in his UFC debut. Now, he’ll face Maximov, a member of the Nick Diaz Academy who has never tasted defeat as a pro MMA fighter. Petroski remembers those days before he suffered his first loss in a 2020 bout against Aaron Jeffery.

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“At the time, I had just run through everybody,” he said. “I think I was 5-0 with all finishes within seven minutes. I used to give everything into submissions, and I was so aggressive with getting finishes. I didn’t ever think about even making it to the third round. So, for me, it was really just learning how to pace myself.”

Within six months he was in the TUF house, making it to the semifinals. His UFC contract was stamped official with the Gillmore win, and he was where he always knew he would be.