Newly crowned WEC lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis and the man he dethroned, Benson “Smooth” Henderson, sent the World Extreme Cagefighting promotion out with a bang last week at WEC 53 in Glendale, Arizona.
The two battled it out over five rounds in the last fight under the WEC brand, going back and forth throughout the fight. Heading into the fifth round, the fight was either man’s to steal; it was Pettis who took the bout, sealing the deal with a brilliant off-the-fence roundhouse kick that floored the durable Henderson. Speaking with MMAJunkie.com, Pettis discussed the inventive, game-changing move and revealed what he was thinking in the moments prior to launching it.
“The biggest thing going through my mind was, ‘Go for it,'” Pettis told MMAjunkie. “I was thinking I needed to do something to land. He’s checking all my low kicks, and I couldn’t get off. He kept stopping me at one or two punches. I thought I had to do something out of the box and see what happens. Luckily for me, it landed.”
Pettis explained to MMAJunkie that he was growing slightly frustrated with Henderson’s stifling defense, which was preventing him from stringing together many significant combinations, and that he threw the kick simply out of a desire to make something connect.
“It was more that I wanted to land something,” Pettis said. “I couldn’t get off. I was trying to get off with the two-one. He kept checking my low kicks, and I needed to come out of the box with something. I had to throw [the acrobatic kick] and try to get off. If I wouldn’t have landed it, I would have tried to follow up with something. Luckily for me, the kick landed, and it was an impressive kick.”
With the win, Pettis became the last WEC lightweight champ and he also earned a shot at the winner of the upcoming UFC lightweight championship bout between champ Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. “Showtime” explained that he has not yet grasped fully all that he accomplished Saturday night, that he just hopes he and Henderson sent the WEC off right.
“It still doesn’t feel real,” Pettis said. “This is crazy. It was a tough fight, and I hope we put on a show for the last WEC.”
You can watch video of the ninja kick below: