Anthony Pettis appears to have Benson Henderson's number.
Nearly three years after defeating Henderson for the World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight title, Pettis also took Henderson's Ultimate Fighting Championship crown Saturday. That makes Pettis responsible for Henderson's only two losses in his past 14 fights.
Fighting in front of his hometown fans at Milwaukee's Bradley Center at UFC 164, Pettis won the title in the first round due to verbal submission from an armbar, with the finish coming at the 4:31 mark.
"I grew up coming to this arena," Pettis (17-2) said. "I sat up in the nosebleeds. This is for the people up in the nosebleeds. You can do what you put your mind to."
Henderson, a native of Glendale, Ariz., took control in the early part of the round, as he neutralized Pettis along the fence in a clinch. But Pettis turned the tide in the fight with a series of kicks to the body.
Still, Henderson was in what appeared an advantageous position late in the round, working from the top on the ground. But Pettis' slick maneuvering on the floor helped him transition into a tight armbar, giving Henderson no choice but to surrender.
"Anthony is a tough dude," said Henderson (21-3), who had a seven-fight win streak snapped. "He got my arm, he did a good job turning it the right direction, I moved just a hair, that was a high-level armbar right there."
The co-feature bout was 11 years in the making, but it finished in less than two minutes. In a battle of former UFC heavyweight champions, Josh Barnett, in his first UFC fight since 2002, scored a TKO victory over Las Vegas' Frank Mir (16-8)
Barnett (33-6), a Seattle native now based out of Fullerton, Calif., swarmed Mir from the get-go. While Mir withstood the early flurry, he had no answer for a big knee to the head which dropped him to the mat. Referee Robert Hinds stepped in and stopped the fight at 1:56. Mir protested, and the fight was likely halted a bit early, but Barnett had the fight well in hand.
"I know I didn't want it to stop, I'll tell you that much," Barnett said. "Me and Frank are the type of guys that would rather die than quit. ... That's the way it goes."
Sacramento's Chad Mendes made a statement in the featherweight division by scoring his fourth consecutive knockout. Even more impressive is that it came against Chicago's Clay Guida, who had never been KOd in 44 previous career bouts.
Mendes tagged Guida (31-14) with a right hand which landed flush on the jaw in the early seconds of round three. Guida hit the mat, and Mendes followed with a series of right hands before the bout was waved off at the 0:30 mark.
Mendes (15-1) has an eye on a rematch with champion Jose Aldo, who handed him his only career loss in Jan. 2012.
"I wanted a TKO knockout very badly and I got it," Mendes said. "I knew it was my best bet and after the first big hit, I knew he was out of it."
In a heavyweight bout, San Diego's Brandon Vera did his best to stick and move against Ben Rothwell of Kenosha, Wisc., but Rothwell finally caught up to him in the third round and made him pay.
Rothwell charged forward and clipped Vera with a right hand. That led to a series of rights, with several knees mixed in for good measure. Vera dropped to the mat and covered up and Rothwell had a TKO win at 1:43.
Rothwell (33-9) had his 30th victory via finish in his career. Vera, in his heavyweight return after a five-year stint at light heavyweight, dropped to 12-7 with one no-contest.
"I think this was a fight that I was supposed to win," Rothwell said. "But what was most important was that I fought hard and a lot was earned tonight."
The main-card opener was billed a meeting of future featherweight contenders, and the bout between Lousiana's Dustin Poirier and Milwaukee's Erik Koch lived up to the hype.
Round one was one of the year's best, as Koch came within seconds of putting Poirier out with a choke. But Poirier escaped, dropped Koch with a right hand which landed flush on the cheek, and applied a choke of his own.
Koch was saved by the bell, but he couldn't escape a second-round beating which caused two judges to score the stanza 10-8 for Poirier. Koch won round three and searched for a submission until the final bell, but it was too little too late.
Poirier (14-3) won on scores of 29-28, 29-27, and 29-28 for his second win in his past three fights. Koch (13-3) suffered his second straight loss.
"He's slick but not that strong," Poirier said. "I knew I had hurt him a couple times but he's a tough guy."