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Anthony Pettis, Hatsu Hioki impressive at UFC 144

Maggie Hendricks
Cagewriter

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Another great kick from Pettis (Tracy Lee)

Anthony Pettis was already known for one of the most memorable kicks in MMA history. He added to that legend with a left kick that knocked out UFC veteran Joe Lauzon at 1:21 in the first round of their bout at UFC 144 at Saitama Super Arena in Japan.

With that perfectly-placed kick, Pettis won his second fight in a row. After the fight was stopped, he jumped on top of the fence and gestured for the belt.

[Video: Watch Pettis-Lauzon fight highlights]

"Winning that fight is an amazing feeling.  I was on a bit of a down streak in 2011, but 2012 is my year and I'm getting a title shot.  I'm back, focused and ready to go, I didn't get touched.  I think I confused him with my southpaw, had him biting on the jab then threw the high kick and it landed.  I wanted to put on a good show for the fans because without them, I wouldn't be Anthony Pettis," Pettis said after the fight.

A title shot was supposed to be his after he won the WEC's lightweight belt in December of 2010. However, a loss to Clay Guida in June squashed those plans. Now, with an impressive knockout of Lauzon and a win over Jeremy Stephens, he's making a case that he belongs at the top of the UFC's stacked lightweight division.

Heading into the fight with Pettis, Lauzon was riding a high after stopping both Melvin Guilland and Curt Warburton in the first round. This loss sends him back to the drawing board.

Hioki wins over Palaszewski

In just his second UFC bout, Hatsu Hioki showed that he should be the next challenger for Jose Aldo's featherweight belt with a 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 dismantling of Bart Palaszewski.

In the first round, Hioki knocked Palaszewski down early. Palaszewski returned to his feet only to be taken down again. Hioki moved to side guard and threw repeated punches. To avoid strikes, Palaszewski gave up his back. As he tried to move out, Hioki pulled Palaszewski's arm into an armbar. He defended and moved out, but Hioki got back on top and threw several strikes. Palaszewski was more comfortable in the second round, keeping the bout standing. He was able to land more combinations than Hioki.

[Video: Watch Hioki-Palaszewski fight highlights]

In the third, Hioki brought the fight to the canvas immediately, taking down Palaszewski with a nasty trip. Hioki moved to side control and again used repeated shots to Palaszewski's head. When Palaszewski tried to escape, Hioki took his back. Palaszewski avoided the submissions, but Hioki's dominance was clear.

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