UFC 164 Results: The Real Winners and Losers from Henderson vs. Pettis
Their first bout, on its way to becoming an instant underground classic as it entered the final round, instead became a viral sensation that took the Internet by storm. Already a great fight, it became legendary thanks to a singular technique. As soon as Anthony Pettis planted his leg on the Octagon and launched the most insane flying kick in MMA history, it became more than a fight. It became a moment.
Benson Henderson went down hard—and he's been going down hard ever since on YouTube and in the highlight package played at every UFC event. That moment has been replayed again and again for two solid years, much to Henderson's chagrin.
Henderson went on to win UFC gold, becoming Bleacher Report's Fighter of the Year for 2012 in the process. Yet, for all of his success, part of him seemed stuck in the shadow of that one kick.
Revenge would have been sweet—but it wasn't to be. Pettis showed he had a ground game to go along with his stand-up skill, submitting Henderson with an incredible armbar to take the title in his hometown.
Pettis, of course, wasn't the only winner on the night. It was an exciting card top to bottom, and there were plenty of standouts in Milwaukee Saturday. Click through to see who made an impression, both good and bad. Disagree? Let me know in the comments.
Loser: Benson Henderson
Benson Henderson was counting chickens that hadn't yet hatched. He had his eye on the UFC lightweight record for title defenses held by BJ Penn. Anderson Silva was also on his radar. He wanted to be the best fighter of all time.
But Anthony Pettis was focused on one target and one target only—Benson Henderson. It paid off with an armbar victory and a UFC title belt. Henderson controlled the bulk of the round in the clinch, but when Pettis attacked, it was with purpose. Consecutive kicks to the body softened Henderson up. A slick, lightning-quick armbar finished him.
Next up for Pettis should be TJ Grant, a fighter jet attacking a tank. But after the fight, Pettis also laid the groundwork for a champion vs. champion bout with featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo, which has fans salivating. Either one is a fight worth waiting for.
Winner: Anthony Pettis
Notch one for the bad guy.
Pettis is one of the cockiest fighters in the sport, but he showed it's an attitude not without some merit. In other words, he backed up his big talk with action. And, you know what? If you can walk it the way he did, I have no problem with a bit of talk.
Future opponents have to be scratching their heads about how to combat the new champion. His standup is both stylish and skillful. And, as Henderson learned, if you take him down, he's got a very dangerous guard to go along with his kickboxing. That's a potent combination.
Clay Guida showed wrestling can be Kryptonite to Pettis, but as his takedown defense continues to improve as a result of training with wrestling standout Ben Askren, that window is quickly closing.
The king is dead. Long live the king.
Winner: Josh Barnett
It's been more than 11 years since Josh Barnett left the UFC in disgrace, twice a loser, not to a fellow fighter, but to a tiny vial of urine. Drugs sent Barnett to Japan. Pride kept him there for years.
Eventually, however, time heals all wounds. That healing process, and the failure of every single major UFC competitor, brought Barnett back to the Octagon for the first time since he beat Randy Couture at UFC 36.
And what a return it was.
Frank Mir was Barnett's UFC doppelganger. Both had brutal submission games. Both were great. Neither was the best.
A battle between mirror images sometimes fails to compel. Skill negates skill, and the result can be a dull slog, especially in the heavyweight division. But Barnett, who values entertainment over pure sport, wasn't about to let that happen. He charged Mir from the first clang of the bell and didn't stop until a crushing knee sent Frank crashing to the mat.
The stoppage may have been premature. But it was likely a mere matter of time until the fight was finished properly. On this night, it was all Barnett. Welcome back, Josh. We've missed you.
Loser: Clay Guida
It's getting hard to remember exactly why Clay Guida is such a fan favorite. There was a time his crowd response rivaled anyone in the entire sport. Five Fight of the Night awards will do that for a fighter.
Somewhere down the road toward immortality, toward becoming MMA's Arturo Gatti, Guida made some drastic changes. He moved to Greg Jackson's gym in Albuquerque, N.M., and emerged with a more cautious game plan. Success followed, but in MMA, winning isn't the only thing that matters.
Guida paid a price for his more thoughtful approach. Checks in the win column cost him fans in droves. Now, as he heads toward the twilight of his career, the good will that might have sustained him is gone. Mendes, on the strength of his superior athleticism and strong right hand, handed Guida his third loss in four attempts.
Was this Guida's final appearance in the Octagon? The promotion is awfully crowded for a loser who doesn't bring entertainment value with him. I wouldn't be surprised if his next fight is on Spike TV instead of FOX.
Winner and Loser: Ben Rothwell
Sorry, Ben Rothwell. Thirty awesome seconds—awesome seconds that saw the kind of jittery footwork and head movement normally associated with crack addiction—don't negate two awful rounds.
For 10 minutes, Rothwell and opponent Brandon Vera engaged in the kind of numbingly bad fighting that likely drove thousands to check in on the Georgia-Clemson score.
Rothwell looked slow. Uncoordinated. Unskilled. Did I mention slow? Because he was slow. Glacier slow. Sloth-on-Ambien slow. Words are failing me to describe just how slow this man was.
And then? He came alive like someone had just tazed him in the nether regions. And Vera, who was looking to be on his way to a decision, was suddenly in serious, serious trouble. Hamhocks and a big knee followed. Rothwell, minutes away from possibly being cut, was the hero at the snap of a finger.
What a wacky and wonderful sport.
Winner: Dustin Poirier
Dustin Poirier almost lost everything before the fight even really got started. Months of training wasted in mere minutes—could anything be worse? Caught in an Erik Koch triangle, he could feel the end nearing.
"I was gargling. I almost went out," the Louisiana-based fighter admitted after the fight. Luckily for Poirier, however, "almost" means less in cage fighting than it does in horseshoes or hand grenades. Poirier survived.
And Koch? Koch suffered.
Amateur judges, rejoice! The UFC's new "Live Stat" feature gives you the information you need to mercilessly judge the actual judges in real time.
UFC competitor Bellator actually innovated this feature with its app earlier this year, and it's great to see UFC follow suit. I'll be checking it often between rounds to confirm my own perception of what happened.
Winner: Chico Camus
I admit to knowing nothing about Chico Camus when the fight began. He was a stranger to me. Further, after the first round, one that saw Kyung Ho Kang dominate on the mat, I all but wrote him off.
That was a mistake.
Camus came back strong, and what started as a Kang mauling turned into a spirited back-and-forth fight. While I had Kang winning the bout, Camus made it competitive enough to squeak out a hometown decision. One spirited interview with Joe Rogan later, and even the boss of bosses was taking note:
Great fight and great interview by @KOMCamus!!!— Dana White (@danawhite) September 1, 2013
If you're part of the deep undercard, it doesn't get any better than catching Dana White's eye. That's the kind of thing that will pay dividends for Camus down the road.
Losers: Soa Palelei and Nikita Krylov
In the final moments of the third round, a lot of fighters are tired. Fifteen minutes might not seem like a long time, but when you are fighting for your literal and professional life, it can feel like eons.
So, I understand heavyweights Nikita Krylov and Soa Palelei being completely exhausted in the final round.
But midway through the first? Throughout the second? That's just embarrassing, no matter what weight class you fight in. Especially when you can't blame it on intense, sustained action. By the end of the fight, the deep breaths outnumbered the striking attempts by at least three-to-one. If that's not a FightMetric statistic, it should be.
Palelei, who eventually won when Krylov basically quit fighting, blamed an injured rib for his underwhelming performance. Whatever the culprit, the result was a comically lackluster fight.
Loser: The Undercard
Once, the UFC was stocked from top to bottom with great talent. It was called "the Super Bowl of MMA" for a reason. Every fighter was an experienced veteran with a name or a real prospect on his way to the top.
Of course, in those days, that was possible because the UFC only had a handful of events every year. That's changed quite a bit in The Ultimate Fighter boom. In some ways, in fact, the promotion has been a victim of its own success. Now running dozens of cards a year, there has been an inevitable decline in card quality.
It's been a gradual process, but UFC 164 was particularly glaring.
Magnus Cedenblad? Nikita Krylov? Pascal Krauss? Chico Camus?
The UFC 164 undercard felt more like a collection of rejected Bond villain names than the Super Bowl of MMA. The days of truly stacked cards are long gone—and part of me misses them a little bit.
Anthony Pettis defeats Benson Henderson by submission at 4:31 of Round 1 to become the new lightweight champion.
Josh Barnett defeats Frank Mir by technical knockout via knee at 1:53 of Round 1.
Chad Mendes defeats Clay Guida by technical knockout via punches at 0:30 of Round 3.
Ben Rothwell defeats Brandon Vera by technical knockout via punches at 1:54 of Round 3.
Dustin Poirier defeats Erik Koch via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27).
Gleison Tibau defeats Jamie Varner via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Tim Elliott defeats Louis Gaudinot via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27).
Hyun Gyu Lim defeats Pascal Krauss by technical knockout via knee and punches at 3:58 of Round 1.
Chico Camus defeats Kyung Ho Kang via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27).
Soa Palelei defeats Nikita Krylov by technical knockout via punches at 1:34 of Round 3.
Al Iaquinta defeats Ryan Couture via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Magnus Cedenblad defeats Jared Hamman by submission via guillotine choke at 0:57 of Round 1.