UFC 136 weigh-in at the Toyota Center on October 7, 2011 in Houston, Texas. via UFC.com
The last WEC lightweight champion gave MMA fans the term "Showtime kick" and came into the UFC with a guaranteed title shot. One title fight draw before he got his shot changed all that, and a loss to Clay Guida has Showtime looking to finally establish himself in the UFC in Houston. On the other side of the coin, one of the hardest-hitting lightweights out there is looking to completely derail the Showtime hype train and finally establish himself in the upper echelon of the packed 155-pound division. Anthony Pettis (13-2, 0-1 UFC) squares off with Jeremy Stephens (20-6, 7-5 UFC).
Pettis is currently sitting at number 10 and Stephens is unranked on the USA Today/BE Consensus Rankings. Stephens actually just missed and is currently at 28, and a win over Pettis would guarantee him a spot in the top 25. Pettis doesn't have much to gain rankings-wise, but his first UFC win would be huge for him. This lightweight fight will be on the preliminary card, which will be shown live on Spike TV. The Spike prelims show begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
How do these two stack up?
Pettis: 24 years old | 5'10" | 72" reach
Stephens: 25 years old | 5'9" | 71" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Anthony "Showtime" Pettis made his MMA debut on his 20th birthday, and just kept winning. He earned his way into the WEC and won a bout there before dropping a highly controversial split decision to Bart Palaszewski at WEC 45. That didn't stop him though, and three more impressive wins earned him a WEC lightweight title shot against champion Ben Henderson at the promotion's final show, WEC 53. And what a fight it was. In the 5th round of a fight that was dead even, Pettis used the cage as a projectile and kicked his way to a win and the title. He thought he was getting a UFC title shot too, until UFC 125 saw champion Frankie Edgar go to a draw with Gray Maynard. A rematch was ordered, and Pettis was matched up with Clay Guida at the TUF 13 Finale. Guida grounded him and picked up an easy decision win, and now Pettis needs a win badly to establish himself in the UFC and stay in the title hunt.
Jeremy "Lil Heathen" Stephens has definitely had an up-and-down career since his UFC debut back in 2007. He's 7-5 in the UFC, but has never strung together more than two wins at a time. He's on one of those two-fight winning streaks now, and a win over Pettis would likely be the biggest of his career. The heavy-handed lightweight has won the knockout of the night bonus three times, and picked up a fight of the night bonus as well.
Why should you care?
Come on folks. This is MMA's version of July 4th - guaranteed fireworks. Stephens is unlikely to follow the Guida gameplan and will look to take Showtime's head off, which should lead to some amazing exchanges. This fight is a PPV-worthy matchup, and it's on free TV. That's how deep this card is.
You can catch morepreview content from Bloody Elbow after the jump.