Five years ago tonight, the WEC’s final event hit Phoenix, Arizona, and ended in one of the best fights of 2010 between Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson, a fight that featured Pettis’ now-infamous “Showtime Kick,” a wall-walking jump kick that still sits as one of the greatest in-cage highlights in the history of the sport.
Re-live the fight with our live play by play from that night in today’s flashback post:
MAIN EVENT FIGHT FOUR: BEN HENDERSON VS. ANTHONY PETTIS (LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP)
ROUND ONE: Henderson walks forward early as Pettis stayd on the outside. Hometown crowd fully behind the Champ tonight. Henderson through a jump kick but he wasn’t close enough to land. Pettis landed a leg kick. Pettis moved forward and through the jumping kick of his own but it was blocked. Very tentative start from both guys here. Henderson pushed in and landed a hard leg kick and got the clinch on the cage. He grabbed a body lock and landed a couple of knees. He got in some to the thighs. Pettis taunted with a yawn. He got his arm in but Henderson tripped him up and took him down. Pettis put his back on the cage with Henderson in his guard. Pettis threw up for a triangle/armbar attempt and Henderson stood up. Pettis kicked him off and got back to his feet. Pettis moved forward with a high kick but Henderson avoided it. Pettis got in close and landed a couple of punches. Henderson landed a straight kick. Pettis landed a harder one that sent him back. Pettis landed a nice counter right as Henderson came in. Henderson drove in with a double leg and took Pettis down with 15 second left. He landed a couple of punches as the round ended.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Henderson. A couple of takedowns in a relatively tentative round were enough to take it, but Pettis is right in there.
ROUND TWO: Pettis came forward to start the round. Henderson landed a good body kick. Pettis blocked a high kick and landed a good leg kick. Pettis got in and dropped Henderson with a right hand. He took Henderson’s back but Henderson got to his feet. He tried to grab a kimura, but Pettis scrambled and nearly got one himself but Henderson’s arm popped out. He worked back up to his feet in the clinch and then separated. Pettis landed a nice right again in a combination. Henderson pressed in and shot but Pettis stuffed it. Henderson clinched him on the cage out of the sprawl. He landed a couple of knees to the thighs and Pettis broke free. Pettis landed a left hook but missed the follow up right. Henderson landed a good right of his own. Henderson landed a nice body kick. Pettis threw a flying knee but it didn’t land with full force and Henderson clinched. Henderson landed a knee and separated. Pettis grazed a kick low on Henderson but he restarts almost immediately. Pettis landed a nice jab. Pettis blocked the high kick and countered with the leg kick again. Pettis threw a high kick that grazed Henderson and the round came to an end.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Pettis. He landed the more significant strikes of the round and had a submission attempt of his own. Close round, though, and a good fight so far.
ROUND THREE: Pettis lands a straight kick early. Henderson comes forward with a leg kick. Henderson landed a body kick and Pettis landed a leg kick in response. Pettis is stalking now. Henderson landed an overhand right. He got in close and Pettis took him down. He passed to the mount and took Henderson’s back. Henderson got to his feet and tried to shake Pettis off of him. Pettis kept position and Henderson got to his feet with Pettis on his back. Pettis has the body triangle standing and continued to try to get his hand loose. Henderson is keeping wrist control. Pettis lands some hard punches to the body and the head and Henderson is still standing. Pettis is just trying to get his arm back right now. Pettis keeps active with punches from under Henderson’s arm and he keeps doing damage to the body and head while Henderson is standing. Pettis got his arm loose briefly. Pettis continued to ride Henderson’s back and they traded punches as Henderson started throwing elbows to Pettis’ thigh. Henderson is going to survive the round and he shakes Pettis off as the round ends.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Pettis. That was impressive stuff from Pettis, but Henderson defended really well there and held control of Pettis’ wrist to avoid the choke.
ROUND FOUR: They traded nice straight rights in succession. Pettis landed a leg kick. Henderson landed a hard body kick. Pettis continued to be the aggressor, and kept Henderson backing up. Henderson shot for a single, Pettis almost got a guillotine and Henderson spun out and got on top. Pettis rolled back after trying to get a triangle. He gave up his back and Henderson took his back. Henderson got the body lock on and got the choke on but Pettis got out of it. Wow. Pettis tried to roll out and Hendrson hald onto the body lock. Henderson gave up the body triangle and Pettis escaped and got on top. Pettis got to side control and he took Henderson’s back. Incredible back and forth action. Henderson stands, Pettis takes his back and throws a knee to the head before separating. Henderson landed a straight kick. Pettis stalked again. He blocked a kick and landed a nice counter right. Henderson landed a nice knee but Pettis continued moving forward. Pettis landed a combo. Pettis grabbed a guillotine but Henderson got out and into half guard. Pettis got guard back and tried to lock on the guillotine but Henderson survived the round.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Henderson. Really, really close round that could have gone either way, but Henderson came really close to finishing with the choke while Pettis’ wasn’t as close. Even going to the final round.
ROUND FIVE: Henderson threw a straight kick and Pettis countered with a right. Pettis threw Henderson away after a takedown attempt. Pettis came in and landed a kick low. Henderson took a short amount of time but restarted. Pwttis stalked him. He blocked a couple of kicks and landed two big punches in combination. He landed another right. He landed another left hook as he came forward. Henderson slipped and Pettis closed in and took his back but he was too high and stood back up. Pettis landed a huge flying knee as Henderson shot in and sprawled as Henderson grabbed a single leg. He moved to a double leg and finished a takedown on the cage. Pettis threw his legs up for the triangle and rolled over and Henderson got his back. Pettis rolled over and escaped and stood back up. That was beautiful. He moved forward and landed a left. He threw a high kick but it was blocked. Pettis ran up the wall and kicked off and landed a kick to the face that knocked Henderson to the ground! Pettis started landing punches and elbows but Henderson recovered. That was the single most incredible kick I’ve ever seen in an MMA fight. He landed hammerfists and elbows. Henderson got to his feet and Pettis landed a flying knee to end the round. He should be the final WEC Lightweight Champion.
Penick’s Scorecard: 10-9 Pettis. That was incredible. Pettis completely out-struck Henderson, and he should take this fight three rounds to two.
WINNER: Pettis via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)
POST FIGHT: Pettis said that kick is a move he practices all the time. He said he’s got ten more of those coming in the UFC. He said he got his tempo going in the third round. Henderson was interviewed, clearly disappointed, but said Pettis did a great job.
STAR RATING: (*****) It took until the final major event in North America of 2010, but there’s my fight of the year. Drama with back and forth action, submission attempts from both fighters, and incredible striking in the fifth round from Pettis with the greatest kick I’ve ever seen pulled off in the cage, and he did it when he needed to pull off a convincing move to take the fight. Regardless of whether he deserves to leapfrog other fighters in the UFC for a title shot, that highlight alone makes him an easy sell for the UFC. Amazing performance from Anthony Pettis.
Also, check out highlights of the bout in the Fox Sports 1 countdown to their UFC 164 main event in August of 2013:
[Photo (c) Joe Camporeale via USA Today Sports]
Attention iPhone/iPad users, if you’ve enjoyed our app in the past and followed us there, or if you’ve never checked it out, make sure to update to the latest version in the Apple store. We’ve launched a new look for the app, in line with our recent desktop overhaul. Make sure to check it out! An update to our Android app is on its way soon as well, so Android users keep an eye out for that update soon!