In football they talk about a quarterback's ability to win in the 4th quarter. NBA legacies are judged by performances "in the clutch". There is a common thread that separates the good from the great, and the great from the legends. How do you perform when the game is on the line? Anthony Pettis' Showtime kick, in addition to being the MMA highlight of the year and an ESPN Sportscenter top ten play of the year in all sports combined, was without question the most clutch move in the history of MMA.
There is a lot of debate on the scoring of the Edgar-Maynard bout already, and some of my rational is predicated on how I personally scored it, but the overall point can still be applied. I had the fight even heading into the final round, with Maynard and Edgar alternating the first four frames. I did not think the first round was a 10-8 because Edgar was able to mount some offense and land some clean punches after he recovered from Maynard's attack. To earn a 10-8 the round has to be a complete shutout. Was the round one sided? Sure. Was it the most dominant round of the contest? Absolutely. But I don't believe it was one sided to the point it deserved a 10-8 advantage. The fight on my card was dead even heading into the last frame. The last round was the closest of the contest, and I felt no fighter did enough to assert himself. On my card it was a clear 10-10, which made the bout a 48-48 draw on my scorecard.
Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson heading into the fifth round was also dead even. One could argue the fight was still in question until the moment he launched off the cage. And this is the difference between the two fights. Anthony Pettis literally goes off the wall(normally this is an absurd expression) to prove he deserves to be champion. I am not questioning or criticizing the effort or action of either Edgar or Maynard, but neither fighter asserted themselves and as the fight went on, the fight became more of a stalemate. Neither fighter truly "went for broke", not at least when compared to what Anthony Pettis did.
I don't think it's fair to penalize Pettis, who recorded one of the great crunch time techniques in the history of the game because neither Gray nor Frankie could do enough to truly win the fight. Reward Anthony Pettis with the title fight he earned against Benson Henderson. Gray Maynard will always be there to take on the winner. Jonathan Snowden brings up a valid point about the sport's need for an epic trilogy, but there will be plenty of time for that down the line. The sport also needs action heros and crunch time performers. Scratch that, the sport needs Showtime performers.