Report by Brady Crytzer
In a fight of the year candidate on the night of the final WEC event, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis used every weapon in his arsenal to defeat champion Benson Henderson via unanimous decision.
Although considered to be a not-so-classic matchup of striker versus grappler, the champion Henderson proved that he had no fear in trading blows with the 23 year old challenger. After both men missed with jumping roundhouse kicks, Henderson was able to slam his opponent to the mat. Though he was down, Pettis was certainly not out and he popped back to his feet after a brief stint on his back. Once standing again, Pettis was able to score with a quick strike that briefly wobbled the champion. Visibly hurt, Henderson shot in for a takedown and ended the round from the top position.
Round two began with fireworks as, after Henderson moved straight back, the well schooled Pettis dropped the title holder with a right cross. Henderson used a clinch to recover and the men met in the center of the cage again. After scoring with a smacking right hand, Pettis ate a shot in return and was driven backwards into the cage. Pettis, able to create some space, unloaded on the champion with a flying knee that elicited a tremendous reaction from the Jobing.com Arena.
Pettis went on the attack in the third round and used snapping leg kicks to work his way inside. As the champion was prepared to defend another kick, Pettis wisely shot in for a takedown and was able to take the back of Henderson. In an interesting development, Pettis would proceed to ride the back of his opponent for nearly two and a half minutes while Henderson, still standing, fought valiantly to shake him off.
The fourth round saw Henderson next gain the upper hand by taking down his opponent and taking the back of Pettis. During the struggle it appeared as though the fight was over when the champion locked in a tight rear naked choke. Miraculously, Pettis shook off the hold and the crowd went wild. Pettis then reversed the position and was able to take the champion’s back. The men continued their war on the feet with the better striker Pettis getting the best of the exchanges, and, as the round came to a close, Pettis locked in a tight guillotine choke.
Round five was an all-out war as Pettis began to open up with hard punches. Time and again, the head and hair of Henderson flailed across the cage as Pettis scored with leaping right hands. After a low blow, Henderson shot in for a takedown from a distance but was caught with a well-timed knee by Pettis. Though he absorbed the blow, Henderson was able to put the challenger on his back but was quickly reversed.
Next, in what could have been the most spectacular move in mixed martial arts history, Pettis leapt with a jumping spinning roundhouse kick off of the wall of the cage. The kick not only connected on Henderson, but it managed to drop the champion. Pettis remained in the top position and hammered away until time expired.
Judges’ scorecards read as follows:
With this win Anthony Pettis becomes the new WEC lightweight champion and secures a date with the winner of Gray Maynard/Frankie Edgar superfight in 2011.
Out with the Old, In with the New: Cruz Crowned UFC Champion over Jorgensen
In the contest to crown the first UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz dominated challenger Scott Jorgensen over five one-sided rounds. Scorecards read the same, 50-45 in favor of the champion
The champion Cruz peppered the challenger time and again in the early minutes of the fight using an unconventional, lunge-and-punch style. After turning the head of Jorgensen with a left hook, Cruz found himself being dragged to the ground. After regaining his balance, Cruz continued his pickpocket style attack. After being tagged time and again with a multitude of punches and kicks, Jorgensen was able to score a second takedown at the buzzer.
The champion made no secret what his game plan was in round two, the punches came in bunches yet again and Jorgensen had no answer. After more success with his boxing, Cruz was able to grapple the challenger to the floor and remain in the top position for much of the round. As time expired Cruz was continuing his striking barrage. Round three started out with a bang as Cruz momentarily dropped the challenger with a short right hook. After stunning Jorgensen, Cruz moved around the cage at in short random bursts forcing the challenger to chase him with short, off-target blows. While in pursuit, Jorgensen was surprised with a hard knee and taken to the mat. Despite the one-sided nature of the round, Jorgensen absorbed every blow and showed no signs of slowing down.
Cruz began the fourth round with a slick takedown. Though Jorgensen was a multiple-time PAC10 wrestling finalist, Cruz’s complete game kept him on edge. The round was dominated by the champion, and the challenger had no answer for his potent mix of combinations and takedowns. In the final period it was more of the same as Cruz took Jorgensen to the mat at will and pounded him with hard punches from the top position.
Judges’ scorecards all read 50-45 in favor of Cruz.
With this victory Cruz becomes the last WEC bantamweight champion and first UFC 135 lb. title holder.
Cerrone Keeps Cool, Submits Horodecki
In an exciting lightweight contest Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone submitted former IFL star Chris Horodecki with a tight triangle choke at 2:43 of the second round.
Cerrone started out strong in the meeting of explosive strikers but his momentum was stifled when a low kick landed below the belt of his opponent. After another engagement, Cerrone displayed well rounded skills by taking Horodecki to the mat. The fighters restood after an impressive scramble and the striking chess match began. Though he gave up considerable height and reach, Horodecki found a home for his hard body blows and quick kicks. After landing a hard kick, the former IFL standout Horodecki shot in for a takedown and force Cerrone to defend. With only twenty seconds left in the round, “Cowboy” took the back of his opponent but was halted by the bell.
Round two took on a different appearance as, after Horodecki attempted to lock up with his opponent, Cerrone fell to his back and locked in a tight triangle. The younger fighter fought valiantly to defend the hold, but eventually gave in to the choke.
The official time was 2:43.
Shalorus Still Unbeaten in WEC; UFC Lies Ahead
In a heated lightweight affair Kamal Shalorus defeated Bart Palaszewski via split decision.
Shalorus began by throwing haymakers at his opponent, and though it looked like he was going to headhunt, a quick throw put Palaszewski on his back. Sporting a red Mohawk, Palaszewski ate a heavy volume of blows from the bottom and had little answer for his Iranian opponent. Following a break in the action, the men were restarted on their feet and Palaszewski was able to land hard kicks to the body of Shalorus.
Palaszewski was able to fight his fight in the second round as he kept the fight on the feet and stopped his opponent’s takedowns on numerous occasions. After eating several hard kicks, Shalorus snagged a leg of his taller opponent and slammed him to the mat. The fighters worked back to their feet and the round ended with another heated exchange.
The final round was considerably slower than the previous, and both men were showing signs of fatigue. Shalorus was able to score a takedown midway through the period, but he could not keep his opponent down. After some more exchanges with Palaszewski throwing well-timed combinations, “The Prince of Persia” was able to take the fight to the ground again. The fight came to an end with both men struggling to assert themselves on the feet.
Judges’ scorecards read 30-27, 29-28 in favor of the winner Kamal Shalorus. A third judge scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Palaszewski.
KO’s Abound in Wild Undercard: Roller, Alcantara Dazzle
In a minor upset Shane Roller used his tremendous grappling skills to submit former world lightweight champion Jamie Varner with a rear naked choke at 3:55 of the first period.
Danny Downes defeated Tie Quan Zhang via unanimous decision. Scorecards read 29-28 twice and 30-27 once in favor of Downes.
Brad Pickett scored a three round unanimous decision over UFC vet Ivan Menjivar after three competitive rounds. Scorecards all read the same, 29-28.
Eddie Wineland scored a TKO victory over Ken Stone at the 2:11 mark of the first period with a vicious slam. Stone was unresponsive following the knockout and was taken out of the cage on a stretcher.
Danny Castillo proved that the best defense is a good offense when he knocked out opponent Will Kerr with a crushing series of right hands while Kerr was attempting a leg lock submission. The official time of the TKO was just 1:25.
Yuri Alcantara made a splash early in the evening when he KO’ed opponent Ricardo Lamas with a brutal overhand left at 3:26 of the first round. Lamas was unconscious, and Alcantara was celebrating, before the fight was waved off.
Renan Pegado needed only 3:37 to submit Chris Cariaso with a ti