The electricity filled the Jobing.com Arena air early Thursday evening after five out of the first six fights at WEC 53 ended within the 1stRound. With riveting opening acts, it was only fitting the main event provide the biggest thrills of the night.
In one fatal swoop, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis went down in MMA lore with his WTF off-the-fence kick against Ben Henderson. The only thing missing was the lights out finish, but it was still good enough for ESPN.com to immediately post the highlight reel strike on their mammoth website, nonetheless.
Ben Henderson showed the composure of a champion throughout their 25-minute affair, but it was the 23-year-old challenger that appeared hungrier to go down as the WEC’s last lightweight king.The stars went back-and-forth for the first four rounds, leaving most to believe it was knotted up at two apiece entering the 5thRound.
As the clock started to tick away, Pettis went Neo with his MMA game and pulled a Matrix-esque maneuver off the fence and landed a kick to Henderson’s grill. The champ immediately dropped to the canvas, but survived to hear the WEC horn blare for the final time.
Unfortunately for Henderson, he was on the wrong end of the (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) unanimous decision verdict. Pettis will now advance to take on the victor of the UFC 125 main event between champ Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard.
That contest will then serve as a UFC lightweight title unification bout in the upcoming year.
Outside of featherweight champ Jose Aldo, there’s no hotter name entering the new UFC than “Showtime” after Thursday night’s performance. It’s hard to argue there is anyone more deserving of it, either.