Newly crowned UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis is riding high after his armbar submission victory over Benson Henderson at UFC 164.
Referee Herb Dean called a stop to the fight at 0:38 in the first round, ending Bendo’s 18-month reign as the lightweight titleholder. The 29-year-old won the title from Frankie Edgar by unanimous decision at UFC 144 on February 26, 2012. He successfully defended this title three times — with the first being a rematch between Edgar — before Sunday night’s loss.
After the victory, Pettis said the victory was something he had been imagining for more than half a year.
“You know man I’m real comfortable, I envisioned this for seven months,” the 26-year-old said. “After I beat Donald Cerrone and there were doubts that I would fight for the title, all that I dreamt about was getting that belt wrapped around me and now it actually played out.”
The former WEC lightweight champion defeated Cerrone by TKO at 2:35 in the first round at UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Dodson on January 26, earning Knockout of the Night. UFC president Dana White said he was “sold” on Pettis and that he would have the next shot at the title. First, Henderson had to deal with Gilbert Melendez at UFC on Fox on April 20, and retained his title by split decision.
However, Pettis’ chance to fight for the title almost didn’t happen because of a string of injuries. On February 5, it was announced that Pettis would drop to 145 pounds to fight featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 163. Four months later, Pettis suffered a slight MCL tear, and Aldo fought Chan Sung Jung instead. Aldo retained his title with a fourth-round TKO.
Pettis’ injury healed by July, and when TJ Grant suffered an injury during training, “Showtime” was called in to replace him. Pettis and Henderson had last fought at WEC 53 on December 16, 2010, with Pettis winning the lightweight championship unanimous decision and earning Fight of the Night and Fight of the Year. The winning move has since been dubbed the “Showtime Kick.”
Anthony Pettis went into UFC 164 with a three-fight win streak, and said that he learned his lesson from his loss to Clay Guida two years ago during The Ultimate Fighter season 13 finale.
“I’m never letting it go to the judges again, I learned that from Clay Guida. Clay Guida took me down, wrestled me, stayed on top for three rounds and I lost the fight,” Pettis said. “I wasn’t in trouble ever, but there are rules to this, there’s a way to win this without finishing somebody and I’m not that guy.”
The new champion added, “I’m going to finish everybody that I fight.”