Sunday, December 19, 2010


On the evening of December 16, 2010 at the Arena at Glendale Arizona, the Last Extreme Cage Fight occurred. In it, two lightweight fighters entered the cage in order to compete for the chance to be included in the history books, as the last ever WEC lightweight champion. Both fighters knew what was on the line, and they went for it, all out.

I was cheering for Ben "Smooth" Henderson the entire time during this match. I felt that, while the striking advantage did lie with his opponent, Anthony "Showtime" Pettis, "Smooth" was the more well-rounded fighter of the two.


Henderson comes in with his trademark high energy and seemed to almost dominate Pettis in all areas of the fight thus far. He looked great all around, and the first fight definitely belonged to him. Unfortunately for him, though, Pettis seemed to find his groove at the start of the second, as he ramped up his intensity levels, began showing some of the creative striking he's known for, and basically outworked Henderson during the entire  second round. Henderson's not one to be easily intimated, though, and fights back with all this might. From the third round onward, it became a very back and forth fight that would eventually earn the Fight of the Night award.


Pettis once again took the third round as he rode Henderson's back for almost the entire five minutes, trying to lock in a rear naked choke the entire time. In the fourth, Henderson, knowing that he was most probably behind on the score cards, picked up the pace and outworked Pettis for most of the fourth round, whether on the feet or on the mat. Entering the fifth, both fighters had to be desperate, knowing the fight was so close and, despite their best efforts, were unable to finish the other. What to do?


Pettis took the larger chance, by executing a Hollywood-style off-the-wall flying kick as Henderson was circling the cage. The most impressive part about it wasn't the kick itself, it was that it actually landed and knocked Henderson down:

As much of a Ben Henderson fan that I am, I was sure that the flashy super kick had finished him off. Henderson's known as one of the more durable lightweight fighters in the world, though, and he quickly scrambles and attempts to take Pettis back to the ground while he recovers. Still woozy from the attack, Henderson is unable to execute anything effective and the round ends.
The Showtime Kick


Pettis wins the match via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 48-47), and he did in the most exciting way possible, once again justifying his nickname "Showtime". He will now face off against the winner of the Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard matchup at UFC 125 to unify the WEC and UFC lightweight titles.


I've only been watching WEC events for around year, but the fact that this is their last event still feels very precious to me. I became a huge fan after the first card I saw and just grew to love the organization more and more as time went on.

But, with the full integration into the UFC on January 1, 2011, I see this as, like the advertisements suggest, a new beginning rather than an end. The WEC fighters are now on the big stage like they should, and will receive the recognition that they deserve. It's a new dawn for Mixed Martial Arts, and I am incredibly glad to witness it!

Check out more amazing photos of WEC 53 over at the official WEC website!

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