Before his win at UFC 164 on Saturday night, new UFC lightweight champion Anthony "Showtime" Pettis wasn't even ranked in the Sherdog.com pound-for-pound top 10. After scoring his second decisive win over Benson "Smooth" Henderson—who was ranked fifth—I'd say Pettis deserves a spot amongst the elite.
After injuries (Franklin McNeil of ESPN) and personal hardships (MMA Junkie), Pettis is bound to finally get the respect he deserves. The fact that he earned the victory over Henderson via submission was even more impressive.
Pettis' dynamic striking ability usually gets most of the attention, but he proved on Saturday night just how well-rounded his game is.
There aren't many fighters in the world who can claim without dispute that they are superior to Showtime.
Who else boosted their stock?
It seems like Big Ben is pushing 40 years old, but he's just 31. With a good four or five years of prime performance still on the horizon for him, Rothwell's impressive KO of Brandon Vera on Saturday has him set up for big things.
Vera tried to employ movement to stay away from Rothwell's power, but to hearken back to an old Joe Louis saying, "he could run, but he couldn't hide." In the third round, Rothwell took advantage of his opportunity and stopped Vera with an uppercut and well-placed knee.
Rothwell is a big, powerful man that knows how to use his weight and strength. He'll likely be too slow to strike with the likes of Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez, but he has established himself as one of the top second-tier heavyweights in the UFC.
After the win, Rothwell called out Travis Browne. That would be an interesting bout.
Mendes was knocked out by Jose Aldo in Jan. 2012 and it seemed his tremendous momentum had been stymied. Since the loss, Mendes has been even more impressive than he was before he fell to Aldo in Brazil. On Saturday, he became the first man to TKO/KO Clay Guida.
Mendes earned KO of the Night for his performance. It was his fourth-straight KO/TKO win and has seemingly put him in position to get another shot at the featherweight champion.
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