The most stacked division on the UFC roster just crowned a new champion. Benson Henderson’s unbeaten streak in the Ultimate Fighting Championship came to a screeching halt in the first round of UFC 164 when Milwaukee native Anthony Pettis submitted the now former champion via arm bar in front of his hometown fans.
A rematch of the final WEC lightweight championship bout, Pettis was once again find a way to defeat the favored Benson Henderson. Many experts, as well as myself, predicted that Henderson would find a way to avenge the last loss of his career.
Given the path the two fighters had taken to get to the rematch, it appeared on paper as if Henderson was the more improved fighter. Pettis had suffered a loss to Clay Guida in his UFC debut, and spent as much time injured as fighting since joining the promotion. Henderson on the other hand had gone undefeated against elite competition, and even showed off his shiny new jiu-jitsu black belt as he entered the ring.
None of that mattered to Pettis as he entered his hometown arena.
Early on Henderson was able to attack and use the clinch to press Pettis against the cage. The challenger eventually freed himself from the champion’s grasp and went to work. Unleashing four huge kicks to the body in a row, Pettis took the momentum away quickly.
Once the fight hit the mat, Pettis showed the world just how elite his guard game is. Locking up an armbar from the guard is no easy task in the UFC, in part because of the use of a gi is not permitted. Henderson actually defended the submission about as well as you could ask him to, stacking his body in an attempt to free his elbow while subtly turning over the wrist. Pettis was not going to let it go, and masterfully countered Henderson’s efforts.
As a result Pettis was crowned UFC lightweight champion, and is now 2-0 against Benson Henderson.
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express