On Thursday night at WEC 53, Anthony Pettis used the blue cage to showcase his scintillating skills and its fence to launch himself into superstardom – literally. After executing the kick heard ’round the world, the newly crowned lightweight champ became an overnight sensation.
Not only did Pettis’ dazzling strike earn him the #2 post on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays that evening, but he peaked as the seventh hottest Googled topic the following day. He also picked up an additional 4,000+ followers on Twitter in roughly 36 hours.
While Pettis had the cajones to bust out the “Showtime Kick” in the 5thRound of a championship fight that was still up for grabs, the 23-year-old credited his coach for conjuring up with the kick’s blueprints.
“I just believe in being creative,” Duke Roufus told MMAjunkie.com. “Anthony is a lifelong martial artist, and I’m a lifelong martial artist, and we’re just trying to keep evolving and blend it all together.
“Bringing out some of the old-school Muay Thai techniques where you climb up on people and land techniques. It’s using his athleticism and surprise attack, and being able to put different elements of the game together. Kickboxing changes when you put it into that cage. There’s a lot of tactics you can employ.”
Pettis admitted as much after unleashing the most impressive kick in mixed martial arts history.
“I’ve got 10 more of those kicks coming in the UFC,” he said of his unpredictable arsenal.
Although Pettis is pleased to go down as the WEC’s last lightweight title holder – and more importantly, the UFC’s new top contender – Roufus claims his prized protégé will remain humble and hungry.
“He’s happy he got the strap, but he wants to be a guy like Georges St-Pierre who’s constantly working on weaknesses,” Roufus said of Pettis. “He wants to be the best he can be.”
If Pettis is looking for a role model, there aren’t many better to mimic than the reigning welterweight king. Coincidentally, GSP also captured his first Octagon title off a right head kick when he dropped then-champ Matt Hughes at UFC 65.
St-Pierre has since moved on to become the division’s G.O.A.T. and sport’s most marketable athlete at the age of 29.