The past few years have seen the rise of many great MMA talents from the state of Wisconsin. The invasion of Bellator was set to begin this past year before Cole Konrad, Bellator’s heavyweight champion at the time, announced his retirement from mixed martial arts after only nine fights. Current welterweight champion Ben Askren is now the sole Wisconsin fighter to hold gold in Bellator. In UFC, the state of beer, cheese, and the Green Bay Packers is represented by Anthony Pettis.
Fighting out of Duke Roufus‘ gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Pettis improved to 16-2 as a pro and should have sewn up a lightweight title shot against either Benson Henderson or Gilbert Melendez after his first-round KO victory over Donald Cerrone at UFC on Fox 6 earlier tonight.
Pettis and Cerrone went at each other immediately with fists flying. Both men also tried to work kicks into their exchanges and Pettis found pay dirt almost immediately with a liver kick that sent Cerrone to the canvas in a heap. After one shot to the face for good measure, referee Robert Madrigal stopped the fight and Pettis had a win halfway through the opening round.
The win is Pettis’ third straight after debuting in UFC with a decision loss to Clay Guida in June 2011. Pettis’ wins have come against Jeremy Stephens and Joe Lauzon to go with tonight’s win against Cerrone. And like the win against Cerrone, Pettis’ win against Lauzon came by first-round knockout, only that time it was Pettis’ fists ending the fight quickly and not his feet.
The ace in the hole that Pettis has always had is his win over Henderson in the final bout in WEC history. That was the night that Pettis provided the moment of the year with his “Showtime Kick” in the fifth round that helped him win the decision. If Henderson can get past Melendez, there is no reasoning that will make it right to deny a Henderson/Pettis rematch from happening. If Melendez wins, there is the possibility that Dana White & Joe Silva could create a Pettis/Gray Maynard bout for the title shot.
Bottom line: there’s nobody else at 155-pounds in UFC at the moment that deserves a future title shot more than Pettis. End of story.