Tonight marks the end of lightweight Anthony Pettis’ long wait to challenge for a UFC championship. “Showtime” earned a title-shot in late 2010 when he became the final 155-pound title-holder in WEC by beating Benson Henderson in the organization’s send-off before being folded into the UFC. However, a draw between then-champ Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard produced the need for Pettis to take a tilt while waiting, accepting action against Clay Guida only to end up losing a frustrating decision seeing the bulk of the bout take place from his back.
Pettis went on to win three straight showdowns including finishes of Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone and, once again, found himself needing to choose between sitting out while a lightweight title-shot materialized or taking to the Octagon with his status as top contender at risk. Surprisingly, he opted to drop down to featherweight for a crack at Jose Aldo but fate had a different plan in mind. After an injury forced Pettis out of the pairing, another health-related issue took T.J. Grant out of a bout with current lightweight king Henderson in Pettis’ hometown of Milwaukee and the makings of a storybook ending were set.
While fans may be familiar with the tale of Pettis’ time from his highlight reel “Showtime Kick” against Henderson to his current clash with “Bendo”, Pettis’ path to UFC 164 started out as a teenager whose father had just been murdered and nearly gave up martial arts.
Check out a feature on the road Pettis traveled from a disillusioned teenager dealing with tragedy to an undefeated prospect in WEC to a man many feel will hoist up gold at tonight’s event: