In what is surely one of the best fights of 2010, the lightweight title bout between Anthony Pettis and Ben Henderson epitomized what the WEC has always been about. Non-stop action, transitions from top to bottom, superb conditioning, and unexpected techniques are among the redeeming characteristics of the now-defunct World Extreme Cagefighting.
The back-and-forth battle between Henderson and Pettis in the five-round championship fight was more than enough to cap off the WEC’s 10-year reign, but leave it to Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, to put an exclamation point on the proceedings. It was clear that the fight was very close by the time the fifth and final round began and that it was still anybody’s game to win. Unfortunately for Henderson, it was Pettis that decided to make the final statement in the fight with a very slick wall-walk kick-combination that landed squarely on the former champ’s chin. The strike, which dropped Henderson to the ground momentarily, was clearly the moment that Pettis earned the belt that now resides upon his waist.
In the co-main event, Dominick Cruz cruised his way through five dominating rounds over Scott Jorgensen to earn the first ever UFC bantamweight title. With the back-and-forth trash talking having already begun between Cruz and Urijah Faber, expect the champ to face the fan-favorite Faber sooner than later, in what should be a very tense title fight.
I’m saddened to see the WEC disappear into the sunset after only a decade of existence, but am encouraged that the lighter-weight fighters that made up the organization will finally get their props in the mother of all mixed martial arts companies; the UFC.
Despite being nearly half the size of many UFC heavyweight fighters such as Brock Lesnar, WEC stand-outs like Urijah Faber, Jose Aldo, Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, and Dominick Cruz can certainly hold their own when it comes to drawing a crowd and headlining UFC events. It won’t take long for these fighters to win over the significantly larger UFC fan base.
The merger was a brilliant move by the UFC, and will provide fans with even more entertaining bouts and could potentially provide the former WEC fighters that have made the UFC roster with a more sustainable and financially-sound career path. It’s a win-win for everybody involved. Cheers to the new UFC!