WEC 53: The Arrival of Anthony Pettis

Will AndersonCorrespondent IDecember 19, 2010

On April 20, 1986 a young shooting guard on the Chicago Bulls played a history making playoff game which showed glimpses of what kind of legend he would ultimately become.

By scoring 63 points, shooting 50 percent-plus from the field and dishing out six-plus assists, Michael Jordan announced his arrival in the NBA against a heavily favored Boston Celtics team. 

Who could have known that he would have put on such an amazing performance at such an early stage in his career? Well, that's the thing about greatness, it usually just comes out of no where, and usually when you least expect it. 

Now I wouldn't even dare begin to compare Anthony Pettis' impressive victory over Ben Henderson to secure the WEC 155-pound title Thursday night to the legacy that Michael Jordan has laid down, but you do need to consider the similarities. 

Pettis, like Jordan is fearless; he's not afraid to take his game to the next level in order to win. Also similar to Jordan, Pettis is an innovator. 

MJ dazzled us with his mind-blowing gravity defying dunks and mid-air hand switching layups. In the same vein, Pettis showed us the heights to which MMA can rise to.

Moving forward, a five-round championship fight will always be held to a new standard; and anyone who fails to put it on the line the way that "Showtime" did will be looked upon as a failure even in defeat. 

Say what you will about GSP's current decision victory grind outs, but in his early days, Pierre demonstrated spectacular standup which was previously not seen in MMA before. Essentially, he serves as the pioneering Dr. J to Pettis' Jordan. 

For Pettis, 2010 was an incredible year. It all started in March with a head kick knockout victory over Danny Castillo. By spring he locked in an impressive triangle choke on Alex Karalexis, and then repeated this move again in August while beating Shane Roller to secure the 155-lb. title matchup against Ben Henderson. 

With so much on the line between being the final fight in WEC history, having the winner receive an automatic title shot for the unification of the UFC and WEC titles, and of course being the final lightweight champion in the promotion's history it's enough to make any fighter buckle under the pressure.

However, Pettis is no average fighter. He exhibits an inner strength and cage presence far beyond his years, and it serves him well. 

Perhaps losing his father at such a young age forced him to grow up at an accelerated rate. If you saw the episode of the World of Jenks which featured Pettis, then you felt yourself wanting to root for him. He was engaging, focused and determined to succeed for the sake of his family. 

Writer Orison Swett Marden was once quoted as saying that, "The greatest thing a man can do in this world is to make the most possible out of the stuff that has been given him. This is success, and there is no other."

Well, ladies and gentleman, Anthony "Showtime" Pettis made the most of what was given to him and we will always be grateful to him for it; and as he transitions into the UFC it's safe to say that the best is yet to come.