The main event of UFC 206 is sure to be a fight and/or stoppage of the year candidate, and to get you even more excited for it, we’re going to run through the top 5 performances of Anthony Pettis and Max Holloway’s careers. In this installment, we’re looking at Anthony Pettis. With a highlight reel like Anthony “Showtime” Pettis’, this was not an easy list to make. However, these 5 performances really stood out as the most important wins of the former lightweight champion’s career.
#5 Benson Henderson 1, WEC 53, December 16th, 2010
This fight really needs no introduction. The last ever WEC event before they merged with the UFC, with Benson Henderson defending his lightweight title against Anthony Pettis. Not only was this a high pressure fight for Pettis because it was for a world title, but the winner also got a UFC lightweight title shot as their next fight. Oh, and the event was in dominant champion Henderson’s hometown. But yeah, no pressure “Showtime”. It definitely wasn’t Pettis’ easiest victory, but it was a clear unanimous decision victory nonetheless, proving that he was more than just a prospect, and truly one of the best lightweight fighters in the world. A patient, mature performance was capped off by perhaps the most spectacular strike ever landed in MMA. The showtime kick. Todd Harris screaming “He ran off the wall like a ninja!” sums it up better than I ever could.
#4 Joe Lauzon, UFC 144, February 26th, 2012
After a frustrating introduction to the UFC, with his title shot falling through, a loss to Clay Guida in his UFC debut, followed by a tough split decision win over Jeremy Stephens, “Showtime” bounced back in spectacular fashion. He spent the opening exchanges of the fight pawing with his left cross, and pegged that Lauzon was overreaching with his right hand when parrying. Just after the one minute mark, Pettis faked the left hand and came over the top with a lightning fast left high kick that caught Lauzon clean on the jaw, and sent him to the canvas. A few more seconds of ground pound followed before Pettis walked away with a first round KO and a bonus cheque in his pocket.
#3 Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone UFC on FOX 6, January 26th, 2013
“Cowboy” was coming into this fight red hot, winning 8 of his last 9, and was being touted as the next challenger to then lightweight champion Benson Henderson. Pettis walked into the octagon, and did what he does best that night. He took the centre of the cage, and landed hard body kicks with laser precision. Early on in the first, a Pettis kick to the liver visibly hurt Cerrone, and it was the beginning of the end. Pettis smelled blood, and jumped on Cerrone, not allowing him to recover. He continued to land more clean body kicks, before “Cowboy” couldn’t take any more punishment, and fell to the canvas, folded. Pettis walked away with another first round KO victory, another bonus cheque and solidified himself as the next in line to challenge Henderson for the lightweight strap.
#2 Benson Henderson 2, UFC 164, August 31st, 2013
Nearly 3 years after being promised a UFC title shot, Showtime was finally fighting for the UFC belt. Another lightweight world title fight against Benson Henderson, but this time it was in Pettis’ backyard. Pettis shot out of the blocks, establishing dominance early, landing clean body kicks as always, and hurting Henderson. A wild cartwheel kick resulted in a tangle of bodies, with Henderson ending up in top position, but in Pettis’ always dangerous full guard. Pettis didn’t allow Henderson to settle into a ground war, and threw up his legs and slapped on an armbar in what seemed only a split second. Pettis cranked on the arm, and beautifully changed the angle of the lock midway through to make it too tight for Henderson to escape, and forced the verbal tap out for the victory. Pettis had realised his UFC championship dream, and had done it by submitting a BJJ black belt.
#1 Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira, UFC on FOX 21, August 27th, 2016
“Showtime” was back, and with a bang. After a tough 3 fight losing streak at lightweight, Pettis decided to shake things up in his career with a move down to 145 lbs. He was given a baptism of fire in his new division in the always dangerous Charles Oliveira. Pettis came out like the “Showtime” of old, and put on a masterful display of MMA skills. He showed that he didn’t lose any power with the drop in weight, hurting Oliveira with nasty body shots, while staying calm on his back with a dangerous BJJ black belt on top of him. He fought off multiple submission attempts, before snatching his opportunity to sink in a tight guillotine early in the third round to walk away with his first victory in over a year. With this win, Pettis showed that he was still as dangerous as ever, and was hungry to regain UFC gold.