One of the most underappreciated bouts on the card could decide who faces the winner of the UFC 144 main event. On one side you have the last WEC lightweight champion and the guy with a move so awesome it has it's own name - "The Showtime Kick". On the other side you have a guy who seen as the lamb being led to slaughter in his last bout, but he persevered and picked up the signature win of his career so far. Anthony Pettis(14-2, 1-1 UFC) meets Joe Lauzon (21-6, 8-3 UFC).
Pettis currently sits in the 10 slot at lightweight in the USA Today/BE Consensus Rankings, while Lauzon is right behind him at 11. With a possible title shot on the line in this bout, the winner is likely going to move up a few spots over the next couple of months depending on how it plays out. This lightweight UFC 144 bout is the first fight of the main card, and will air live on pay per view. The PPV broadcast begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
How do these two stack up?
Pettis: 25 years old | 5'10" | 72" reach Lauzon: 27 years old | 5'10" | 70" reach
Anthony "Showtime" Pettis is one of the brightest lightweight prospects in MMA, despite his uneven performances in the UFC so far. He debuted in the WEC in mid-2009 and picked up a quick win, but suffered a controversial setback in his second bout at WEC 45. Most cageside observers had Pettis winning two of three rounds over opponent (and fellow UFC 144 competitor) Bart Palaszewski, but some wild scorecards led to Bartimus picking up a split-decision victory. The setback didn't stop Anthony's momentum though, and three straight wins earned him a title shot against then-champion (and now UFC 144 main eventer) Ben Henderson. The bout was even going into the fifth round, but the Showtime Kick earned him the belt and a UFC lightweight title shot. Briefly. An Edgar/Maynard draw at UFC 125 killed that idea, and Pettis faced Clay Guida in his first UFC bout instead. And lost emphatically. He rebounded against Jeremy Stephens at UFC 136 though, and could possibly earn his stolen title shot with a win over Lauzon.
Joe "J-Lau" Lauzon still holds the distinction of having one of the best UFC debuts ever. He knocked out legend Jens Pulver in just 48 seconds at UFC 63 as a 7-1 underdog. He then signed up for The Ultimate Fighter 5, where Pulver was actually one of the coaches (Lauzon was on B.J. Penn's team though). Manny Gamburyan bounced him in the semis, but Lauzon had already proven he was UFC-caliber. His problem going forward was that he would do very well against marginal competition, but come up short against top guys. He entered his UFC 136 bout against Melvin Guillard as a decided underdog despite his 7-3 UFC record, but proved the public wrong by dropping Guillard and choking him out in just 47 seconds. He's finally in the top-tier of the division, and defeating Showtime could lead to a tile shot.
Why should you care?
Showtime is flashy and effective. Lauzon is so much more than the sum of his parts. This bout has fireworks written all over it, and is an excellent choice to open the PPV.
You can catch more UFC 144 preview content from Bloody Elbow after the jump.
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