WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis Live Blog

It’s actually here. This is the final WEC event ever. I know it’s for the better as the WEC fighters will likely get paid better and get more TV exposure when they are in the UFC (from a pure ratings perspective), but I’m going to miss this promotion. I love the smaller guys and their ability to always put on a fantastic show.

So it is on this historic night I bring to you the WEC 53 live blog. Champion Ben Henderson and challenger Anthony Pettis will fight in the main event for the WEC Lightweight Championship, and the winner will face the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard (UFC 125) for the UFC-WEC unification belt.

The other title fight live from Glendale, Arizona is the Bantamweight Championship between the champion Dominick Cruz and the challenger Scott Jorgensen. Whoever wins will go into the UFC as the first ever UFC Bantamweight Champion. Jose Aldo is already the UFC Featherweight Champion and will defend his title sometime in 2011.

Here’s the full fight card and I will provide coverage of the live televised bouts on Versus:

MAIN CARD

  • Champ Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis (for lightweight title)
  • Champ Dominick Cruz vs. Scott Jorgensen (for bantamweight title)
  • Donald Cerrone vs. Chris Horodecki
  • Bart Palaszewski vs. Kamal Shalorus

PRELIMINARY CARD

  • Danny Downes vs. Tiequan Zhang
  • Shane Roller vs. Jamie Varner
  • Ivan Menjivar vs. Brad Pickett
  • Ken Stone vs. Eddie Wineland
  • Danny Castillo vs. Will Kerr
  • Yuri Alcantara vs. Ricardo Lamas
  • Renan Barao vs. Chris Cariaso

Unfortunately I have been out all day and did not have time to write a preview, but the wonderful folks at Bloody Elbow can prep you for this stacked card.

Because the WEC airs some of the preliminary fights as filler I will not spoil the results. After the jump you can follow along and refresh at the end of each round for commentary of the night’s action

Predictions:

Anthony Pettis TKO3 Ben Henderson. Bendo has great skills, tremendous ability to free himself from submissions, but I think Pettis is a very talented fighter with great kicks and punches. His stand-up is more varied than Henderson’s and I see Pettis pulling off the upset.

Scott Jorgensen UD Dominick Cruz. Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m picking Jorgensen because Cruz’s fights are very sloppy and awkward to watch.

Donald Cerrone KO1 Chris Horodecki. This is a mismatch. Horodecki will get steamrolled and probably won’t make the UFC roster when all is said and done.

Kamal Shalorus KO1 Bart Palaszewski. If you like a brawl, this is the fight. Bart’s punching power is not fantastic but he is a slugger. Shalorus is a wrestler and he’s built like a rock…..yet he’s fallen in love with his striking, which often features some horrendous technique. He is a powerful puncher and he will catch Palaszewski and send him to sleep.

Kamal Shalorus vs. Bart Palaszewski

Round 1 – Left hand rocks Bart early. Another straight left. Takedown by Shalorus and full guard pulled by Palaszewski. Shalorus throws rights to the body. More body shots as he remains active on the ground.  HARD ground and pound by Shalorus. He’s taking some shots against the cage as Shalorus leaves the guard. Hammerfists now. Referee warns Bart for grabbing the cage and Shalorus is back in the closed guard. Kamal lands a leg kick as he jumps out. Right hand by Shalorus clips Bart and they’re standing again. Left jab by Palaszewski. 50 seconds left in the round. Good leg kick by Palaszewski. Stinging leg kicks by Shalorus in return. Wild left misses from Shalorus. Round ends. 10-9 Shalorus

Round 2 – High kick missed by Palaszewski. Another kick thrown caught by Kamal. Shalorus just can’t quite connect on a right hook and then he throws an ugly fastball. Head kick grazes Shalorus’ head and it’s one of  Bart’s better attacks. Kamal swings wildly at nothing and Todd Harris is SHOCKED Shalorus hasn’t shot in for a takedown. Has he remembered any of his recent fights? On cue Shalorus shoots….stuffed and Shalorus releases. Single leg takedown and Bart is on his back and Shalorus works to the body again from the guard. Fans are booing and this 2nd round has not been that exciting. Shalorus throws several shots and Palaszewski goes right through it. Final seconds in the round. Head kick blocked by Shalorus. 10-9 Shalorus but a close round.

Round 3 – Shalorus’ winging punches are terrible. No way he lasts in the UFC. Good knee by Palaszewski in the clinch. Head kick lands but not flush by Palaszewski. Counter right hand by Bart snaps Shalorus’ head back and Kamal looks a little gassed. Two punch combo by Bart. Single leg takedown by Shalorus….successful. 2 minutes left and Palaszewski needs to show something on his back or escape. Kamal looks like he’s in side control now but it’s hard to tell. Doesn’t matter because he’s in half-guard for sure.  Short elbows thrown by Shalorus. One minute left. Bart trying to get up and he does! Kick by Bart stuns Shalorus! Uppercut by Bart. FLUSH KNEE by Bart! 30 seconds left! Kamal is gassed and he could be in trouble. Bart needs to attack. Right hand lands. Right knee can’t connect. Low kick does to the shin of the fight and the fight ends. 10-9 Palaszewski but it’s 29-28 Shalorus on my card.

OFFICIAL RESULT: 30-27 Shalorus, 29-28 Palaszewski, 29-28 Shalorus. Kamal Shalorus def. Bart Palaszewski by split decision. 30-27 is ridiculous.


Donald Cerrone vs. Chris Horodecki

Round 1 – Herb Dean is the referee. Horodecki goes wild with a high kick and it misses. Cerrone is way taller than Chris. Knee to the body by Cerrone. Low blow by Horodecki right in the groin.They restart. Hard kick to the body by Cerrone. Cerrone gets a takedown and is right in full mount but Horodecki escapes! Nice work. Left jab snaps Cerrone’s head back. Knees in the clinch by “The Cowboy” Donald Cerrone. Horodecki trying to pick his shots. Spinning backkick just avoided by Cerrone. Horodecki holding his own so far and getting the takedown but Cerrone stands right back up. Cerrone takes Horodecki down and is going for an armbar but Horodecki gets out of it. They stand back up and trade some more. Another takedown and Cerrone takes Horodecki’s back. Cerrone with a heel strike to end the round. Entertaining stuff. 10-9 Cerrone.

Round 2 – Horodecki with a takedown but Cerrone goes for a leg triangle off his back! Now Cerrone reverses position and is locking up the triangle again. Horodecki trying to defend and it’s getting tight. Cerrone taking his time but he hasn’t got it just yet. Horodecki is literally putting his fingers in the mouth of Cerrone. Cerrone sinks in the triangle again and Cerrone is landing elbows as well a la Anderson Silva vs. Travis Lutter. It’s extremely tight and there’s the tap. Good win for Cerrone but he wasn’t that great against an opponent he should’ve beaten easily. Donald Cerrone def. Chris Horodecki by submission (Triangle Choke) at 2:43 of the 2nd round.

Excellent montage of the WEC shown before the next fight. I never even saw Chris Leben KO Mike Swick.

Dominick Cruz vs. Scott Jorgensen (Bantamweight Championship)

Round 1 – Here we go. Cruz’s footwork just amazes me because it is so unorthodox. Same with his head movement. As a result he’s throwing wild haymakers as Jorgensen just moves. Uppercut isn’t even close. How the heck am I going to RBR this? Cruz is making my head spin. Jorgensen remaining patient. Left hook by Cruz and now a three punch combination by the champion. Nice kick but Jorgensen moves in for the takedown but Cruz remains strong against the cage. Jorgensen with a knee to the thigh and they go back to striking. Cruz is really just winding up that uppercut. He should try landing it. Hard low kick to the shin by Cruz.Fast paced action and lands a nice combo to the chin of Jorgensen.  Good jab by Jorgensen. Cruz is looking for that uppercut and he lands it along with a low kick. Less than a minute left in the round. ANOTHER low kick by Cruz. Jorgensen takes down Cruz and gets on his back but Cruz escapes and moves to side control to end the round. 10-9 Cruz.

Round 2 – Cruz catches Jorgensen’s kick. Jorgensen starting to move a little more and my head and eyes can’t take this. Jab from Cruz. Another missed uppercut. Try something else. Beautiful right hook by Cruz as Jorgensen misses wildly on a punch. There’s a takedown and Jorgensen is on his back as Cruz goes to work from the top. Hard elbows by Cruz. Jorgensen looking to wall walk but he can’t as Cruz pins him down. More elbows to the head from Cruz. Jorgensen is getting outclassed here. Jorgensen is back to his feet with 30 seconds left.  Flying knee by Cruz staggers Jorgensen! Best strike of the night by either man and this was all Cruz. 10-9 Cruz.

Round 3 – Short right hand drops Jorgensen!!! Jorgensen gets up but he was caught flat-footed. Head kick by Cruz! Stinging leg kick. This is domination by Cruz. Jorgensen is off-target with the left. Jorgensen isn’t landing much of anything and Cruz’s movement is frustrating Jorgensen. Decent body kick by Jorgensen and now a counter combination by Cruz! And more leg kicks! He fakes the superman punch and attacks the leg again! Good right hand by Cruz as he backs away. Fantastic takedown by Cruz and Jorgensen is down again. Minute left in the 3rd but right now it’s obvious Jorgensen needs a KO or submission to win. Jorgensen sweeps but Cruz avoids giving up his back and they’re back to their feet. Round ends. 10-9 Cruz.

Round 4 – THUDDING RIGHT HAND from Cruz. Jorgensen is out of his depth and again Cruz gets the takedown. Jorgensen being warned for grabbing the cage. Ground and pound coming from the champion and frankly since the 1st round it’s been all Dominick Cruz. Scotty is hitting air. Dirty boxing in the clinch and a right hand hits the jaw of Jorgensen. Jumping knee from Cruz backs Jorgensen up. Cruz drives Jorgensen to the mat for another takedown and passes to side control. Back to their feet now. Cruz’s head movement is fantastic. Another shot. Another takedown successful. Jorgensen’s right eye looks swollen. 10-9 Cruz.

Round 5 – Jorgensen needs a miracle but I think Cruz is about to become the UFC Bantamweight Champion heading into 2011. Head kick blocked by Jorgensen. Cruz looks like he could go on forever. I’d like to see the FightMetric stats for this one because Jorgensen can’t have a high percentage of punches landed. Cruz leans in and scores with a right hand. Scores again with a combination of punches. Jorgensen winces as Cruz lands a good body kick. Jorgensen gets a takedown and let’s see what happens. Well…not much. Cruz is back to standing. And just like that Cruz just storms in and gets the double leg. The crowd is booing….for what I don’t know because this has been entertaining. Ten seconds to go and another flying knee by Cruz! Excellent stuff. 10-9 Cruz and 50-45 Cruz on the night.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Dominick Cruz def. Scott Jorgensen (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) to defend his WEC Bantamweight Title and become the first ever UFC Bantamweight Champion.

Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis (Lightweight Championship)

Round 1 – ITTTTT’S TIME!!!! I can’t wait. Hendo misses on the leg kick. He’s trying to set up the jab. Front kick by Henderson blocked. He checks Pettis’ leg kick.  Jumping high kick not flush but it forces Henderson to move away. Henderson whiffing on his punches. Crowd chanting Hendo. Leg kick and a quick punch combo stuns Pettis! Pettis is hurt! Henderson gets the clinch in and throws short knees.  There’s the takedown by Henderson with Pettis’ back against the cage. Two minutes to go in the opening round. Pettis attacks the arm and looks for an armbar from his back but Henderson says “no way”. They’re standing again. Head kick just a bit off the face of Henderson. Both men showing good, diverse strikes. Push kick by Pettis. Counter right hurts Henderson a little bit but Henderson gets another takedown to close out the round. He lands some good ground and pound. 10-9 Henderson

Round 2 – Blocked head kick countered with an inside leg kick. BIG RIGHT HAND DROPS HENDERSON! AND NOW ANOTHER KICK! Henderson has a great chin. Looks for a kimura but Henderson spins out of it and has Pettis against the cage. Back to the center of the Octagon. Pettis sets up the kick to the chest. Stephan Bonnar just said it was not a right hand dropping Henderson it might have been a trip. Henderson attacking with strikes and dives in for a takedown which he doesn’t commit to. They’re clinching and Henderson fires some knees and they release. Jumping knee by Pettis! Henderson once again clinches up and releases. Low blow to the groin. Henderson is fine though and we restart the action. They both trade kicks. Final 30 seconds of the 2nd round and it’s a tight tight round. Horn sounds and I just give it to Pettis. 10-9 Pettis.

Round 3 – Strong leg kick rattles the right shin of Pettis. Henderson receives one in return. Overhand right nearly decks Pettis. Pettis dives right in for the takedown and Henderson works with elbows from the back. Pettis has Henderson’s back!!!! Pettis going for the rear naked choke but Hendo is extremely hard to submit.  Pettis lets go and Henderson trying to get up. Pettis lands a few short punches as Henderson stands up. Pettis has a body triangle and Henderson cannot shake him off. Brutal body shots to the liver and a few more to the ribs by Pettis. This is all Anthony Pettis in the 3rd. Henderson is just taking shot after shot against the cage both to the head and the body. Henderson still can’t get Pettis off his back. Four more body blows. Henderson out of nowhere gets some solid elbows to the thigh. Pettis going for the choke again but Henderson is staving him off. Pettis is off Henderson’s back as the round ends! What a fight. 10-9 Pettis.

Round 4 – Championship rounds. Henderson gets a nice body kick to Pettis’ stomach. Henderson coming forward and Pettis and oh my god I don’t even know what to type. Pettis just went for a submission and Henderson scrambled out. More scrambling and submission attempts. Now Henderson has Pettis’ back! Henderson going for the choke!!!! IT IS DEEP!!!!!!! PETTIS GOT OUT! PETTIS GOT OUT!!! What an amazing fight. Pettis unable to escape.  PETTIS DOES ESCAPE AND REVERSES POSITION! HE HAS HENDERSON’S BACK! WOW!  Henderson shrugs him off and we return to striking. Man I thought the fight was over. Stunning right hook by Pettis catches Henderson. 1:10 to go. Henderson going aggressive with the jab.  Guillotine attempt by Pettis.  It’s not deep at the moment. Pettis turns and it’s closed guard. Final seconds. Henderson will survive. One more round. 10-9 Henderson and I have it even.

Round 5 – This is a classic. What a way to go out.  Low chopping leg kick by Henderson. Another low kick to the groin and Henderson will….ouch that hurt. He’ll take some time. And we’re back. Head kick by Henderson! RIGHT HAND STAGGERS THE CHAMP! He recovers. Henderson slips and Pettis gets Henderson’s back yet again. Gives it up. FLYING KNEE AS HENDERSON SHOOTS!!! Oh my goodness this is an all-time great fight. Now Henderson gets the takedown! Holy crap how do you score this round? 2:10 to go. ARMBAR ATTEMPT! NO! HENDERSON GETS PETTIS’ BACK! He has one hook in. AND PETTIS REVERSES!!!! BACK TO THEIR FEET WITH 90 SECONDS TO GO! Jab to the body by Henderson. Blocked high kick. OH WHAT A HEAD KICK!!!!!!!! HENDERSON IS DOWN!!!!!! PETTIS LOOKING TO FINISH!!!!!!!!! 45 SECONDS AND HENDERSON IS IN HUGE TROUBLE! HOW DID HE NOT GO OUT?! THAT WAS A SENSATIONAL HEAD KICK!!!!!! HE WENT OFF THE CAGE AND LANDED THE KICK! MORE SHOTS WITH 25 SECONDS TO GO! TEN SECONDS LEFT!!!!! JUMPING KNEE!!! THAT IS IT!!!!! That is one of the greatest fights I’ve ever seen. 10-9 Pettis and 48-47 Pettis on my scorecard. That’s the perfect curtain closer.

OFFICIAL RESULT: Anthony Pettis def. Ben Henderson by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) to become the new (and final) WEC Lightweight Champion. He will fight the winner of Frankie Edgar/Gray Maynard in the WEC-UFC Unification Title Fight.

 

That’s it from me. Thank you to the WEC for putting on epic cards such as this one and possibly one of the 10 best fights I’ve seen and a potential Fight of the Year candidate. Here are the results from the untelevised preliminary card:

Renan Barao def. Chris Cariaso by submission (rear naked choke) – R1 3:47

Yuri Alcantara def. Ricardo Lamas by KO (punches) – R1 3:26

Danny Castillo def. Will Kerr by KO (punches) – R1 1:25

Eddie Wineland def. Ken Stone by KO (slam) – R1 2:11

Brad Pickett def. Ivan Menjivar by decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Shane Roller def. Jamie Varner by submission (rear naked choke) – R1 3:55

Danny Downes def. Tiequan Zhang by decision (unanimous – 29-28, 30-27, 29-28)

I’ll post a gif of that insane “off the cage kick” by Pettis as soon as one is made. I need to watch this fight again. I can’t wait for these epic battles to continue on an even bigger stage. Thanks again to the WEC for providing some of the most entertaining fights in MMA almost exclusively on cable TV.

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