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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
2010 may wind up going down as the year of Anthony Pettis. The 23 year old lightweight fighter from Milwaukee, Wis., worked his way to a shot at the WEC Lightweight Championship in the final fight in the organization's history; and in one of the best fights of the year and one of the best fights in WEC history, Pettis captured the gold with a spectacular overall performance.
With four wins in 2010 - all of which left him with added moments on his highlight reel - as well as a half hour spot in the MTV documentary series World of Jenks, Pettis was already poised to enter the UFC in 2011 with a lot of momentum, but then came the kick.
Pettis' springboard kick off the cage in the fifth round, that not only landed but knocked Henderson to the ground, was the ultimate star-making moment. In front of a very pro-Henderson crowd in Glendale, Arizona, that kick immediately put every fan in the arena in Pettis' corner. When Pettis was announced the victor, the crowd cheered louder for him than they had for Henderson at the outset of the fight.
But it didn't stop with just the crowd. MMA fans all around the internet immediately began to buzz about the kick, praising the flashy and never-before-seen move as one of the most incredible things ever seen in the cage. But it also found its way to ESPN's Sportscenter and their "top 10 plays" segment.
It was undersold at #2 behind a flying dunk in the NBA, but the incredible move was still seen by a wider audience than Versus.
Pettis is now going to challenge for the UFC Lightweight Championship, against either Frankie Edgar or Gray Maynard. Those two meet at UFC 125 on New Year's Day, and though he's leapfrogging a number of contenders already in the division, the UFC has a large highlight reel with which to introduce him to the UFC audience.
In addition to the incredible kick, Pettis knocked out Danny Castillo in March with a head kick and pulled off a triangle choke submission against both Alex Karalexis and Shane Roller in 2010. Those spectacular wins, in conjunction with that single, amazing kick, give Pettis the opportunity to be a breakout star in 2011 in the UFC. After Thursday night, he's already well on his way.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
STAFF COLUMNISTS: Shawn Ennis - Jason Amadi
Frank Hyden - Rich Hansen
Chris Park - Matt Pelkey
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