In a surprising battle of takedowns, Pettis outlasts Stephens at UFC 136

HOUSTON - Jeremy Stephens and Anthony Pettis are dangerous on the feet so it was expected that the young lightweights would produce something spectacular. It never happened.

Stephens turned to wrestling in the first and Pettis (14-2, 1-1 UFC) reacted by using his grappling to grind out the next two rounds. It worked. He got a split decision victory, 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28, in the UFC 136 opener on Spike.

This was a huge fight for Pettis, who was expected to challenge for the UFC lightweight title in 2012. He won the WEC 155-pound title to close out 2011, which was supposed to earn him a shot against the winner of the Frank Edgar-Gray Maynard fight in January.

Unfortunately for Pettis, the champ and challenger fought to a draw at UFC 125. Dana White decided that it was only fair for the Edgar and Maynard to fight again, so Pettis took a fight instead of waiting. He lost that June fight against Clay Guida, and was facing a massive tumble down the lightweight ladder if he lost to Stephens tonight.{ysp:more}

The first round didn't go well for Pettis. Stephens (20-7, 7-6 UFC) shocked him by grappling in the middle of the round and eventually scoring two takedowns.

In the second and third, Pettis turned the tables. He scored five takedowns over the final 10 minutes. Pettis threatened to slap on a rear-naked choke at the end of second, but beyond that, he didn't do much damage.

Pettis controlled the pace of the fight enough to win in judges' eyes. On the feet, it was a wash with Pettis outlanding Stephens 65-61.

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