Anthony “Showtime” Pettis is gearing up for the biggest transition of his professional career. At WEC 53, he’ll face the current WEC lightweight champion Ben Henderson in what will be the last event in the promotion’s nine-year history.
When all is said and done, and lights of the Jobing.com Arena go down, the WEC will cease to exist and fold into it’s bigger brother, the UFC. Pettis and a ballpark number of 70 fighters will now be part of the MMA world’s premier fight promotion. That transition will surely provide exposure to many athletes who might not have received a lot of attention in the past.
Through nearly the last decade, the WEC has put on some great fights. From WEC 1, which included a main event where Dan Severn scored a decision win over Travis Fulton, to the recent cards that featured the likes of Pettis, Henderson, and a featherweight wrecking machine known as Jose Aldo, the promotion’s excitement has been, to say the very least, warranted.
Fighters who have participated in the promotion have provided a vast amount of entertaining contests for hardcore fans to witness and indulge in. Now, those fighters will get their chance to showcase their talents on a world stage.
MMAWeekly Radio spoke with Anthony Pettis about getting the chance to shine in the most popular mixed martial arts promotion on the planet.
“I think the world (is) going to have some new favorite fighters,” he said. “We put everything we got into this. We go hard. Like you said, the WEC puts on some great fights. We got some great athletes, great personalities. I’m happy for everybody. We all get a chance to go to the big show, get the big bucks.”
One of the things that sticks out about the WEC is the quickness of the lighter weight fighters and their ability to end a fight with flash knockouts. Some finishes are so fast, viewers have to consciously keep from blinking in order to watch and not miss the ending to a bout. The KOs come swiftly, and with that, so will the UFC’s “Fight of the Night” and “Knockout of the Night” bonuses.
The heavier division fighters might have their work cut out for them with the addition of these smaller and faster athletes.
“I think a lot of the bonuses are going to be going to the smaller guys for sure,” Pettis said.
Before his transition fully goes into effect, Pettis will have one more dance on a WEC card. On Dec. 16, lightweight champion Ben Henderson will be the one standing on the opposite side of the cage when the referee signals the start of the first round in their scheduled main event.
Henderson won the interim WEC lightweight title back at WEC 43 with a unanimous decision win over Donald Cerrone. Since then, the champ has built on his impressive 12-1 record with wins over former champion Jamie Varner – a fight in which the winner would be crowned the undisputed lightweight champion – and a second victory over Cerrone.
“Bendo” is the top dog in the WEC 155-pound weight class and Anthony Pettis is getting a shot at putting him down. Any greatness Pettis sees in him comes with a recognition of chinks in the champ’s armor.
“He’s great,” Pettis said about Henderson. “He’s the champ for a reason. He puts on some good fights. Him and that ‘Cowboy’ (Cerrone) war was a great fight, but I think, like every fighter, he has holes in his game.”
And what holes might those be?
“Even in the Roller fight,” Pettis explained. “Roller caught him with a good punch and he went for a guillotine. I think if he stood up and he would have thrown a couple more punches, we would be having a whole different conversation right now.”
With the knowledge of what he believes to be his opponent’s weaknesses, Pettis confidently prepares for his showdown with Henderson. His versatility is something he knows is difficult for his opponents to plan for, and Henderson will have no easier time than the 11 fighters Pettis defeated over the last three years.
“Showtime” will bring his entire repertoire for his fight with Henderson, and he expects to handle it like a true MMA fight: from all aspects.
“I think my style of fight is really hard to prepare for,” he said. “He doesn’t know what I’m going to bring to the table. I can fight anywhere.”