Anthony Pettis’s last combat for the WEC was constantly going to be unforgettable.
A thirty day period shy of his 24th birthday, Pettis was lined up to face Benson Henderson in the key party of WEC 53, the last demonstrate for the marketing prior to it merged with the UFC. Henderson was 1 of the WEC’s most important stars and experienced still to eliminate within the confines of the blue cage.
Not only that, but one of the two adult men were expected to go on to deal with the winner of a UFC title struggle concerning Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. So even so victory was realized, Pettis and Henderson had been currently marked for stardom.
At the end of a 25-moment thriller it was Pettis who noticed his hand elevated. But he did not just gain – he authored just one of the most incredible moments in beat athletics record.
With just in excess of a moment still left in the struggle, Pettis noticed an opening, an possibility for a move that no one had landed in advance of considerably much less in a superior-stakes title struggle. He leapt forward, sprung off the cage, and caught a retreating Henderson with a traveling head kick that rocked the champion and put an exclamation point above what was then a profession-defining efficiency for Pettis.
Wednesday marked the 10-12 months anniversary of the “Showtime Kick,” and MMA Preventing spoke with Pettis to explore the legacy of that extraordinary maneuver.
“I try to remember almost everything.”
Although the kick itself has been replayed innumerable occasions, the rest of the combat and the functions major up to it are as new as ever in Pettis’ intellect. He remembers how the Glendale group was dead silent as he walked to the cage, displaying no love to the challenger as he organized to facial area Henderson, a beloved Arizona native.
They’d ended up at Jobing.com Arena (now acknowledged as Gila River Arena) only because of a fan marketing in which they could vote on WEC 53’s place the choices had been the Phoenix area, Nashville, or Pettis’ hometown of Milwaukee. Henderson fans received, and Pettis built a psychological take note to himself that if their combat went to a near final decision, it would be Henderson who was much more most likely to depart with the title.
“I remember strolling out to the arena, and it was like crickets,” Pettis said. “No one’s cheering at all for me for the reason that it is his hometown. In the combat there have been so quite a few great exchanges, so many good times. I keep in mind I took his back, in the 2nd round, I rode him like a backpack, set a body triangle in and I’m attacking to the neck. I had him there for possibly two, two-and-fifty percent, 3 minutes. I jump off his again, it’s the start of the 3rd spherical, and my legs have been shot. I was like, ‘Oh sh*t.’
“I started massaging them out, I’m like, I have obtained to determine out how to get these legs back, that was a lengthy time squeezing on that dude’s entire body. Then he usually takes my back again, I reverse him. I try to remember I had him in kimura lock, I had his arm to the again of his head and I’m like, ‘Yeah, there is no a lot more submission tries on this dude. He’s like Gumby, it does not damage him.”
The good thing is for Pettis, his hanging was as sharp as ever, and he at minimum felt self-confident that he was winning the struggle on the toes, even if all hope of tapping-out the malleable Henderson had long gone out the window.
However for Pettis, he just could not land that a person huge shot he’d been looking to established up.
“My putting was carrying out nicely, but I could not obtain a fantastic hole to his video game,” Pettis continued. “I was landing with a 1-2-1 combo and I was seeking to get a high kick off of that, I was finishing with a left hand-correct kick, but he was hip to the match. He retained blocking it and which is when I uncovered my notion for the ‘Showtime Kick’ came.
“I was like, he’s blocking that correct kick quite properly, so I experienced to alter it up a minimal bit. A diverse timing. He was on the cage and I’m like, ‘Yo, let’s go for it.’”
So it was a strategic go?
“I’d like to say it was a strategic move, but I mean, when I was in that move, my head was just in these regulate and my human body was just in sync with my brain, and the way I was moving was just like, I found my zone,” Pettis claimed. “You could see it. I hit him with an Ali shuffle and then he backs up and falls on the ground, and that’s when I knew I had him. My timing is on-level and I begun landing these punches, but I couldn’t land the kick. Which is why I variety of had the strategy, I gotta do one thing diverse if I want to land this kick.
“I keep in mind he backed up to the cage – I’m like, ‘Go for it.’ I didn’t even think I hit it. I recall I threw the kick, and I transform around and I see him on the ground. [I thought], ‘Oh sh*t, it essentially worked.’ And I experimented with to go finish him off, but Ben’s a rough dude.”
The struggle went to the scorecards, but Pettis experienced very little to stress about. If the judges had been on the fence heading into the ultimate spherical, then the “Showtime Kick” was far more than plenty of to sway them in Pettis’ way.
These in attendance weren’t the only ones wowed by Pettis’ daring strike. Messages arrived flooding in from supporters and fighters alike, specially soon after the highlight finished up creating ESPN’s Major-10 performs that night time, a rarity for an MMA fighter at the time. The added notice even obtained Pettis some significant kudos from an idol if his, light heavyweight great Quinton “Ramage” Jackson.
“That go was on ESPN Major-10, I don’t forget seeing it that night or the next evening, we were in the airport, a bunch of my close friends were like, ‘You’re on ESPN, you were on the Top-10,’” Pettis claimed. “This was in advance of UFC was even talked about on ESPN, so it was nuts to get the WEC brand on ESPN and then my identify and everything that I did with it.
“At that time, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson was a single of my guys I appeared up to. He worked for Toyo Tires, and I’d just signed with Toyo Tires and we did a shoot jointly. He’s like, ‘Bro, you’re the person I want to fight like.’ To listen to him say that was humbling. I’m like, ‘Bro, I’ve been observing you because I was a kid.’”
Pettis’ championship option would have to hold out, as a common rematch concerning Maynard and Edgar at UFC 125 finished in a attract, ensuing in an speedy trilogy reserving. As an alternative of a title struggle, Pettis wound up making his UFC debut versus veteran Clay Guida, and he dropped a determination right before recording a trio of victories to make it again to the prime, where Henderson was waiting around. He defeated Henderson once again to last but not least claim the title of most effective light-weight in the entire world.
This Saturday, Pettis makes his 20th UFC appearance when he fights Alex Morono in a welterweight bout at UFC Vegas 17. It is been an eventful decade for Pettis, with a UFC championship run below his belt as well as a transient stint at featherweight (where he holds a submission win more than existing lightweight contender Charles Oliveira), in addition noteworthy wins against the likes of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Stephen Thompson, Gilbert Melendez, and Jim Miller among the many others.
But to this day Pettis nonetheless requires excellent delight in the “Showtime Kick.”
“It’s remarkable, actually,” Pettis reported. “When I threw that kick 10 yrs ago—It’s ridiculous to say that, 10 many years I have been in this activity at the greatest degree, it’s remarkable. I believe the way it was thrown, the previous round, the last WEC battle, it variety of received me the combat, it is just that significantly far more legendary that all that stuff top up to it, that way to finish my vocation in the WEC. It is some thing I search back at and I’m proud of.
“A lot of people today question, ‘Do you want you never ever threw it?’ ‘Is it anything that overshadows all the relaxation of your job?’ No, it is aspect of my tale.”