WEC 53. Great cards often come by way of high emotions, and there was electricity and emotion to spare at the very last offering from the WEC in Arizona on Thursday. “If it’s free it’s for me” comes to mind, and that’s what die hard MMA fans are going to miss most from the WEC Cable TV live broadcasts. This UFC cousin has regularly provided incredible entertainment value free of charge.
The fat lady sang, and waited to the very last moment to sing the sweetest, when Anthony Pettis delivered the single flashiest (yet effective) move in the history of the organization and maybe the sport.
In fact, by running up the cage wall and landing a kick never before seen in the pro ranks, Pettis literally stole the final lightweight WEC championship belt in the last 30 seconds of the WEC's proud run. The live crowd was stunned, including many pro fighters in attendance who stood paralyzed with jaws dropped at what they had just witnessed.
Anthony Pettis was not as impressed with the kick as the audience was. In the Octagon shortly after victory he said, "There’s 10 more just like that waiting for the UFC."
Pettis noted that the move which seemingly came straight out of The Matrix (as Stephan Bonnar noted) was simply the end result of “some fun”—fun the way it is defined when training with legendary kickboxer and coach Duke Rufus. Incredible!
This was a historic moment, not only for being the single most dazzling strike ever landed to win a championship belt, but because it signifies that this is a game undergoing metamorphosis. The fighters continually tell us "bleacher dwellers" that “the game is constantly evolving,” and “the young guys starting out are coming in at the level that took me 10 years to get to,” etc.
We have heard these kind of quotes again and again, but every once in a while we get clear proof, like lightning from the sky, that MMA is still not a completely formed entity.
Think basketball prior to commonplace dunks and hockey prior to curved sticks and goalie masks. Furthermore, as the recent hit flick The Blind Side so pointedly described, think of the NFL prior to LT. This is what makes this young sport so interesting. It also explains the addictive qualities that attract early UFC die-hards and newbies alike.
Did this single strike win the fight for Pettis? We can’t know for sure, but all signs point to a definitive yes. The fight was almost certainly a draw after four rounds, and the fifth round was just about even if not slightly in favor of Henderson prior to the kick.
What’s stunning is how nonchalant Henderson was about the kick (which he saw coming). That is because of the whipping effect the fence had on Pettis right leg, not to mention that the spring off the left foot from the canvas being amplified by the cage making it impossible for a fatigued Henderson to judge the speed of the oncoming blast.
As memorable a kick as has ever been executed in the pro leagues and a clear signal we have a ton of fireworks to look forward to in this division going into the next era. With the odds-makers keeping Edgar vs. Maynard at a near draw, and a slew of highly regarded incoming lightweights from the WEC, this is likely to be the most talked about and exciting division in MMA for quite a while.
As Pettis said postfight, the only belt which now matters will be decided soon. This after several years of debate on the question of superiority in the division regardless of the promotion. This division has a unique opportunity for fireworks moving forward, not only due to the nature of exciting fights in lighter weight classes, but also for the depth of the challenger pool and the parity of the fighters.
The WEC knows how to go out in style. There will be more than a few fans rooting for WEC alumni to make a mark early in the UFC.
J.Wise / GuerrillaFight.com