Maybe Anthony Pettis should have waited after all.
Instead of waiting for his lightweight title shot between the winner of Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, the former World Extreme Cagefighting champ asked Dana White to take on one of the toughest 155-pounders in Clay Guida for his UFC debut.
Guida made Pettis regret that decision Saturday night as he utilized strong takedowns and patience to pull out a unanimous decision upset (30-27 on all three judges’ scorecards) during The Ultimate Fighter finale at the Palms.
“We showed him what wrestling was all about,” said Guida, who now has won four fights in a row.
“Grappling was gonna be the key. He’s one of the most imaginative strikers in the division. We caught him in the exchanges. When he was punching, I was able to shoot in for my takedowns.”
Indeed, Guida (29-8) took Pettis (11-2) down two minutes into the opening round.
Pettis — who gained notoriety for his spectacular “Showtime kick,” when he jumped off the cage and in midair delivered a head kick that dropped Ben Henderson during their WEC title fight in December — connected with another off-the-fence kick to Guida in the second round.
But the spinning kick had little effect and Guida quickly scored another takedown.
It was more of the same in Round 3, as Pettis, who was a +220 favorite at the Palms sports book, couldn’t escape Guida’s guard.
Despite the setback, Pettis said he didn’t regret his decision to take the fight against Guida.
“Big ups to Clay. I’m gonna work on my game and come back stronger,” he said.
Guida, who said he wasn’t sure if the win would move him up to No. 1 contender status, said he’s a fan of the way Pettis handled himself.
“A young man like Anthony Pettis is not one of those guys who likes to sit around. He’s a momentum fighter, very confident in his skills and he has a very bright future,” Guida said. “I commend him for not sitting back and waiting.”
Tony Ferguson might not have won any friends during the 13th season of the reality TV show on Spike TV, but he did win the six-figure UFC contract when he knocked out Ramsey Nijem at the 3:54 mark of the first round.
“I learned a lot about myself. I kept a lot of stuff bottled up and had some inner demons,” said Ferguson, who in the second-to-last episode of The Ultimate Fighter attacked fellow fighter Charlie Rader, who had revealed he hadn’t seen his son in more than a year after missing child-support payments.
“But in all my fights I tried to leave it all out there, and that’s what I did tonight.”
The victory also earned Ferguson an extra $40,000 as he won “Knockout of the Night” honors. Reuben Duran scored the “Submission of the Night” for his rear naked choke on Francisco Rivera. Kyle Kingsbury and Fabio Maldonado won “Fight of the Night” honors as Kingsbury earned a 29-28 victory on all three scorecards.
Bloodied but not broken
Danny Downes looks more like a teenage techie than a professional fighter, but by the time the 25-year-old had walked out of the Octagon he’d earned everyone in the Pearl’s respect — even with the loss he just suffered to Jeremy Stephens.
On the judges’ scorecards, Stephens won easily — but the veteran UFC fighter was the first to say his victory was anything but a walk in the park.
“Danny had nothing to lose tonight and everything to gain. I knew he would be inspired to leave it all out on the table. I knew it was going to be a very tough fight going in,” Stephens said. “I was trying to get him to tap out, but Danny Downes is a tough son of a gun.”
Indeed, especially in the second round when Stephens had Downes’ arm pinned in a very awkward position behind his back and actually appeared to snap at one point.
“I heard the arm pop a few times and even told the referee I thought it was broke,” Stephens said.
It wasn’t, and Downs stood and battled for the next round and half despite a face covered with blood from a cut over his eye.
“I’m just a 25-year old nerdy kid from Chicago, and to be inside the UFC Octagon was an amazing experience,” Downes said. “Stephens came at me with everything he had and I sat there and took and gave it right back to him. I never once thought about tapping when he had my arm. The thought of the fight ending early in his favor never crossed my mind once while I was in there.”
Ed Herman made his return to the UFC a quick one, knocking out Tim Credeur in less than a minute.
The 30-year-old Herman — who hadn’t fought since August of 2009 because of a pair of knee surgeries — knocked down Credeur (who also hadn’t fought since 2009 after an unusual mark appeared on a brain scan), with two upper cuts before finishing him with a right-left-right combo.
“It’s unbelievable. To come out and win like that is so awesome, I can’t describe it,” Herman said.
Chris Cope definitely had the crowd on his side as several fans repeated his patented “woo” yell throughout his unanimous decision victory over good friend Chuck O’Neil.
“It was weird to fight a friend. That’s actually the first time that I’ve had to fight a friend. We both agreed it was nothing personal, and was a great opportunity for both of us,” Cope said, before giving one last “Wooo” to the camera and crowd.
Bantamweight (135 pounds) — Reuben Duran defeated Francisco Rivera by submission (rear naked choke, 1:57-Round 3).
Bantamweight (135) — Scott Jorgensen def. Ken Stone by TKO (4:01-Round 1).
Welterweight (170) — Clay Harvison def. Justin Edwards by split decision 29-28, 29-28, 28-29.
Welterweight (170) — Shamar Bailey def. Ryan McGillivray by unanimous decision 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Featherweight (145) — George Roop def. Josh Grispi by TKO (3:14-Round 3).
Lightweight (155) — Jeremy Stephens def. Danny Downes by unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-26, 30-26.
Welterweight (170) — Chris Cope def. Chuck O’Neil by unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Light heavyweight (205) — Kyle Kingsbury def. Fabio Maldonado by unanimous decision 29-28, 29-28, 29-28.
Middleweight (185) — Ed Herman def. Tim Credeur by TKO (:48-Round 1).
Lightweight (155) — Clay Guida def. Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision 30-27, 30-27, 30-27.
Welterweight (170) — Tony Ferguson def. Ramsey Nijem by TKO (3:54-Round 1).