This article was originally posted at jiMMA
Anthony Pettis is well known for one of the most spectacular kicks in MMA history. In late 2010 he defeated Ben Henderson for the WEC Lightweight Title and while Henderson fights for the UFC strap this Saturday, Pettis is looking to squeeze his way into contention with a fight against Joe Lauzon. For his part, Lauzon recently submitted then challenger Melvin Guillard to gain momentum of his own.
It is fair to say that so far Anthony Pettis' showings in the UFC have been disappointing. In the WEC, Pettis was an incredibly entertaining, dynamic fighter with a propensity for finishes. He has submissions, kicks and energy to burn. Against Clay Guida, Pettis showed a slight lack of fight intelligence as struggled to attack from underneath the wrestler, going on to lose a decision. Against Jeremy Stephens, he failed to find his rhythm. On his day, Pettis has wonderfully diverse striking and a good range of submissions.
Joe Lauzon has matured into a very good fighter. He has decent stand up skills, but his real advantage lies in his ability to take advantage of his opponents' mistakes on the ground. If he can continue to minimize his own mistakes, he can certainly make a ase for a title shot in the near future.
Head to Head
A lot in this fight depends on which Pettis shows up. It would be foolish to believe that the Pettis we saw in the WEC is no longer there, or that the fighters he is fighting now are so much better than those he fought before. If he can regain some of the confidence and fluidity in his striking and game plan effectively, he should be able to pick Joe Lauzon apart. Lauzon will be looking to keep the distance at a minimum and shut down Pettis' kicks and movement in an effort to get the fight to the ground. There, he will look to work submissions. He will need to be careful though, as Pettis has plenty of ability on the mat himself.
Pettis by decision. I do not think the Pettis of the WEC days will be entirely back, but he will approach this fight with a clear strategy for winning and Lauzon has less ways to win.
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