Today, December 16, 2020, marks the 10-year anniversary of the final WEC event, WEC 53, the night of the “Showtime Kick” from Anthony Pettis.
The main event of WEC 53 saw lightweight champion Benson Henderson put his title on the line against Pettis in a matchup between two young, up-and-coming fighters. The WEC was being folded into the UFC after this event, so the winner of this fight would be the final WEC champion and enter the UFC with the belt. With so much on the line, the two fighters put on an absolutely incredible war that went the distance. It was a fitting end to the WEC, as one of the greatest MMA promotions to ever be created concluded with a classic fight.
At the end of the five rounds, the judges scored the bout 48-47, 48-47, and 49-46 in favor of the winner and new WEC lightweight champion Pettis. The fight was extremely close, but what won him the fight was a fifth-round kick that became a highlight-reel for the ages. Jumping off the cage, Pettis landed what is now called the “Showtime Kick” and knocked Henderson down. Although Henderson was able to survive and go to the scorecards, this knockdown was what ultimately swung the fifth and final round in the favor of Pettis.
In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the end of the WEC, relive the “Showtime Kick” by Anthony Pettis against Benson Henderson at WEC 53 on December 16, 2020 (via ESPN).
“Oh! Oh my goodness! Did you see that? (Pettis) ran off the wall like a ninja and landed a high kick! Unbelievable. Just flattened Henderson. How the heck did he recover from that kick? That was incredible. One of the most incredible kicks I’ve ever seen,” exclaimed WEC commentator and former UFC fighter Stephan Bonnar, who was stunned by the move.
For those of us who remember watching that kick by Pettis that night, we all knew it was special at the time. 10 years later it’s still one of the most creative and inventive strikes ever landed in MMA history. If the UFC ever starts to induct past WEC fights into the “Fight Wing” of the UFC Hall of Fame, then this classic should be an absolute lock for it.
By the way, Pettis fights this weekend at UFC Vegas 17 against Alex Morono. If you thought the “Showtime Kick” was special, Pettis promised he’s working on something new.
What are your memories of the epic WEC 53 lightweight title bout between Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson?