Anthony Pettis is the new breed in MMA. The kid first fought professionally at age 20 and he's been training in all aspects of the sport. Pettis is about as well-rounded as it gets. Shane Roller is a little more old school, coming to MMA with a decorated wrestling background. So with a title shot on the line, we find out Wednesday night if Roller's grappling will be enough to get by one of the sport's best young guns.
Pettis (10-1, 3-1 WEC) knows Roller's goal is to get the fight to the ground but that's only one element that the former Oklahoma State wrestler must master.
"If he takes me down he has to control me," Pettis [told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]. "I feel I'm a little more dangerous on my back than he's expecting."
Pettis is rangy and his legs are dangerous from the bottom. He's got five submission wins, two by triangle choke. On the flip side, Roller (8-2, 5-1 WEC) has been dynamite in controlling his opponents once the fight hits the deck. In his last two fights, his wrestling allowed him to dominate two rising stars, Anthony Njokuani and Danny Castillo. After pounding away on the ground, he scored rear-naked chokes victory in both fights.
Pettis tried to mimic Roller's skill set by training with another former Big 12 wrestling star in Ben Askren. A 2008 Olympian and two-time NCAA champion, Askren is actually a higher-level wrestler than Roller and just won Season 2 of the Bellator Fighting Championships at welterweight.
"I feel like I broke some barriers in this training camp," he [told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]. "I'm in such good shape and I'm a better athlete. I feel like I've become another fighter. Everything is razor sharp."
Both Pettis and Roller are under the impression the winner of this fight gets a shot WEC lightweight champ Ben Henderson.
WEC 50 weigh-in (Courtesy MMA Junkie):
Versus Card (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. ET)
Dominick Cruz (134) vs. Joseph Benavidez (134)
Anthony Pettis (155) vs. Shane Roller (156)
Chad Mendes (145) vs. Cub Swanson (146)
Scott Jorgensen (135) vs. Brad Pickett (136)
Zach Micklewright (156) vs. Bart Palaszewski (156)
Maciej Jewtuszko (155) vs. Anthony Njokuani (154)
Mackens Semerzier (146) vs. Javier Vazquez (145)
Dave Jansen (156) vs. Ricardo Lamas (155)
Bryan Caraway (145) vs. Fredson Paixao (145)
Danny Castillo (156) vs. Dustin Poirier (156).