Showtime Kick aside, WEC 53 left some lingering doubts as to who was superior between Anthony "Showtime" Pettis and Benderson "Smooth" Henderson. Showtime's critics argued that the kick-heard-round-the-world was the only reason the judges gave him the win—Henderson was presumed to be the more complete and capable fighter.
Pettis put those critics to rest at UFC 164.
If the rematch reduced to a matter of which fighter had evolved more in the three years since their first bout, Pettis made it all too clear that he'd added more tricks to his trade than Henderson is capable of handling.
From the opening bell, Henderson sought to capitalize on his presumed wrestling advantages—he pinned Pettis against the cage and worked feverishly for a double-leg takedown.
Pettis wasn't having it.
They eventually split and, once the right distance was achieved, Showtime landed a series of brutal body kicks. From the sickening thud of his shin slamming into Henderson's ribs, it was clear why the champion winced and backed toward the fence.
Eventually, Pettis' predisposition towards flashy techniques materialized in a cartwheel kick attempt; Henderson blocked it as the two crashed toward the canvas.
Was this the opportunity for the champion to demonstrate his grappling superiority?
Certainly not. Pettis swiveled his hips for a textbook armbar and, with both arms trapped beneath his torso, the champion was forced to verbally submit.
As the new lightweight kingpin, Pettis just dethroned a man that had gone on a title run long enough to rival the famed BJ Penn. Regardless of who he fights next, his unpredictability and versatility won't be an easy puzzle to solve.
With the added confidence of gold around his waist, Showtime might be saving some of his more explosive techniques for any contenders who dare challenge the title.