December 17, 2010
It was a little sad to see the WEC close its doors last night. The card was representative of everything that hardcore fans liked about the promotion. In the main event, Anthony Pettis served as a prime example of what made the WEC so much fun.
The promotion featured lots of young fighters with well-rounded games and endless stamina. Because the money wasn't great and jobs are hard to come by in MMA, most of the guys fought their asses off. You rarely saw a match with a guy trying to cruise to a victory or playing it safe.
Last night at WEC 53, when the Pettis-Ben Henderson fight was tied going into the final round, the 23-year-old Milwaukee native didn't come off his stool looking to eek out the win. He was aggressive and nailed one of the best moves in MMA history to seal the victory - "The Showtime" kick.
With just over a minute left in the fight, Pettis ran up the side of the cage and landed a kick right Henderson's kisser (0:24 mark). He got the win, grabbing the final WEC lightweight belt and the first shot at the winner of Frank Edgar and Gray Maynard in the UFC.
The first time I saw Anthony Pettis in a WEC cage was back at WEC 41 in Sacramento. He took apart Mike Campbell that night and I remember thinking why did Zuffa put this kid in the WEC? He's absolutely good enough to fight right now in the bigger UFC.
Pettis also had an unreal back story. As a teen, he came home to discover his father had been murdered. Pettis then turned to fighting and training MMA. He went pro at 20 and debuted with WEC at 22. Less than 18 months later, he's locked up a shot at the UFC's lightweight title.
Pettis is exactly what people were talking about five years ago when they said, watch what happens to this sport when the young kids who are training in MMA gyms now arrive. Most of the future stars won't come from a specific discipline. From a young age, they'll have trained in jiu-jitsu, wrestling, boxing and kickboxing.
That's Pettis. We called it back in November at the time of the merger, tabbing Pettis the No. 4 fighter on a list of WEC stars moving over to the UFC. That was four spots ahead of Henderson who actually had the strap.
Pettis came through last night but took it to another level with that kick. There were countless fighters on Twitter saying they'd never seen anything like it and further admitting they couldn't do it. That's high praise. The kid deserves it and may have a big future on the bigger stage.
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