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UFC 164 blog: Anthony Pettis is the newest world champion

Josh Barnett swarms and finishes Frank Mir

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Octagon girl Arianny Celeste waves to fans between rounds of a fight at UFC 156 Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Updated Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 | 9:40 p.m.

Note: Scroll to the bottom for full results from the undercard.

In between the hugs and the handshakes, Anthony Pettis stood still and peered to the top of the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

He wasn't quite overtaken by the moment after submitting Benson Henderson with an armbar at 4:31 of the first round to win the UFC lightweight championship. The 26-year-old had a reason for hitting pause on the celebration.

"I grew up coming to this arena right here," Pettis said immediately after the fight. "I remember, as a kid, sitting up in the nosebleeds."

From the furthest reaches of the arena to the dead center, the 26-year-old hometown product completed a childhood dream of any athlete Saturday night. He reached the pinnacle of his sport in front of all the friends and family he could imagine.

And suspense, unlike when he beat Henderson for the WEC title, played no role in the headlining affair of UFC 164. Pettis beat Henderson 21 minutes faster in their second matchup. Henderson was thrilled to get on top of Pettis near the end of the first round, but it led to his downfall.

"Anthony's a tough dude — proved himself to be the No.1 contender, proved himself to be a champion," Henderson conceded. "He got a hold of my arm and twisted it right."

It wasn't that simple, of course. Pettis had seized control of the round by blasting Henderson's body with four straight kicks before the finish.

"I hit him with body kicks and I saw his face change," Pettis said. "The body kicks are underused in mixed martial arts."

The final four fights all featured finishes. The one in the co-main event was even quicker.

Making his first octagon appearance in 12 years, Josh Barnett attacked Frank Mir with every strike imaginable. He found the finish with a knee flush to Mir's nose at 1:56 of the first round.

"I didn't want it to be stopped," Barnett said after the referee pulled him off. "I can tell you that much."

No debates existed in a featherweight fight pitting Chad Mendes and Clay Guida. Mendes clearly knocked out Guida late in the third round, becoming the first fighter to ever do so.

Ben Rothwell had a TKO win of his own in the third round against Brandon Vera. The first bout of the pay-per-view was the likely Fight of the Night, as Dustin Poirier won the first two rounds against Erik Koch and survived a late submission attempt to take a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27).

Read full results, including round-by-round coverage of the main card, below and stick to lasvegassun.com for more UFC 164 coverage later.

Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis

First Round For the second fight in a row, there's no touching of gloves. Henderson comes in earlier with jabs and shoots for a takedown. Pettis lets the fence catch him, but Henderson keeps pursuing with a single-leg. Henderson leg kicks Pettis a few times before letting him out. Pettis lands with a counter, but Henderson shoots again. Pettis sprawls and crashes against the cage again. Henderson engages in some dirty boxing. Crowd isn't loving the slow start. Pettis connects well with a left hook when they break out so Henderson closes the distance again. "Bendo" knees and keeps trying for the takedown. Pettis' defense has clearly improved in that area. Henderson continues to stall against the wall. Pettis finally gets him off with 1:45 to go and they're back in the middle. Pettis kicks Henderson to the body. He kicks and lands again. And again. And again. Four straight kicks to the body have Henderson backing up. Those can't feel well. Pettis tries for some sort of cartwheel kick, but Henderson falls on top of him. Pettis gets a hold of Henderson's arm and cranks. He's looking for the submission. Henderson either taps or verbally submits because referee Herb Dean steps in right away. Henderson doesn't protest the stoppage. Anthony Pettis submits Benson Henderson with an armbar at 4:31 of the first round.

Frank Mir vs. Josh Barnett

First Round Crowd roars as there's no touch of gloves. Barnett swings heavy to start and knees Mir. He clinches up Mir and stays active. Mir swinging some of his own now, though. Mir connects with uppercuts. Barnett controls Mir against the cage and they're dirty-boxing party continues. Barnett starts to land his uppercut and then blasts Mir with knees. One to the face. One to the stomach. Barnett mixes his elbows with straight punches. Mir has eaten about 20 unanswered punches. Barnett drops him with a knee and that's it. Josh Barnett defeats Frank Mir by TKO at 1:56 of the first round.

Chad Mendes vs. Clay Guida

Third Round Sensing he needs a finish, Guida comes forward swinging. It's Mendes who gets early damage, however, when he drops Guida with a right hand. Mendes punishes Guida again and he falls down. That's it. Referee calls it. Chad Mendes defeats Clay Guida by TKO at 0:30 of the third round.

Second Round Guida comes forward and swings with his jab. Mendes is not affected. Guida stays on the attack, but doesn't land much. Mendes has done nothing through the first minute, though. Guida rushes in with a flying knee and hits Mendes in the groin. Referee doesn't see it, but Guida stops fighting and apologizes. The fight is now paused as it should have been from the beginning. Back in action, they exchange until Guida shoots for a takedown. Mendes sprawls and swings around to Guida's back effortlessly. Guida gets out but Mendes awaits with a knee. Mendes smiles as Guida moves in with a combination on the feet. Guida fights off a Mendes takedown. Mendes fights off a Guida takedown. Mendes knocks Guida back with an uppercut from the clinch. He gets a single leg takedown and Guida is in a bad position. Mendes briefly considers a choke before he hits Guida to the body repeatedly. He lets him up. Guida can't get anything to land, though. Mendes can. He lands about five unanswered punches against the cage. Guida attacks to end the round and tries a front kick for the second time, but Mendes is breathing easy. The Sun has Mendes up 20-18 through two rounds.

First Round Guida turns down Mendes' offer to touch gloves, getting straight to the action. Guida bounces around a mile a minute as usual. They exchange for the first time near the minute mark with neither fighter establishing any momentum. Mendes lands a left hand cleanly on Guida, and it looks like the veteran might already have a black eye. Guida doesn't let that slow him as he continues to move his feet. Mendes stuffs a takedown attempt from Guida and briefly tries for a choke. When it's not there, he lets Guida get to his feet. Guida counters a Mendes body shot with a kick to the head. It does no damage. Mendes loads up a big uppercut that whiffs but hits on an ensuing overhand right. Mendes moves right out of the way from a Guida attack. And another. Mendes' timing is on. He takes Guida down with 1:05 left. It was his first takedown attempt. Mendes scores with a couple elbows before the end of the round. The Sun scores the first frame 10-9 for Chad Mendes.

Ben Rothwell vs. Brandon Vera

Third Round Vera strikes first with a kick. Rothwell lands a bigger one, though, across the body and Vera stumbles back. They clinch against the cage. When no one does any work, referee Herb Dean breaks them out. Rothwell is getting frustrated with Vera's unwillingness to engage and feints around the ring. Rothwell ruthlessly attacks Vera and drops him with a combination. Vera is done with an uppercut and ensuing ground-and-pound. Ben Rothwell defeats Brandon Vera by TKO at 1:54 of the third round.

Second Round Vera keeps up with his leg-kick attack for the first 30 seconds. Rothwell clinches and gets a few knees to go before they break out. Rothwell kicks Vera to the body. He tags Vera with a combination against the fence until they lock up. Vera is trying to reverse position, but he doesn't look as strong after moving up a weight class. Back in the middle, Rothwell jabs and kicks. Vera's lead leg has turned red from a couple shots. Rothwell stays with the leg kick, but Vera responds with a combination straight left and kick. It's anyone's round with 1:30 to go and Vera gets aggressive. Rothwell easily checks a head-kick. Vera shoots in for a takedown. Rothwell easily thwarts the attempt. Rothwell backs Vera down and lands a couple combination. They clinch up against the cage and Rothwell gets an elbow and a right to go. Vera answers with a left hand. Rothwell checks another high kick from Vera. Round ends with Vera getting the better of an exchange. Could go either way, but the Sun leans Rothwell again 10-9 to make the score 20-18.

First Round Rothwell counters Vera's first strike, a leg kick, with a right hook. Vera answers, and they get in one exchange along the fence before Rothwell slips and Vera heads back to the center. Rothwell rocks Vera with a right hand. He crashes against the cage and Vera backs out. Vera lands a big leg kick across Rothwell's body. That's got Rothwell tentative. Rothwell lets loose again with the right hand, and then a left. Vera is not taking the punches well. Rothwell is timing Vera's kicks and countering with punches. Vera gets another to go, though. Rothwell has a couple punches to answer. Rothwell wobbles Vera with a combination. But the longtime light heavyweight weaves out of danger. Vera runs away from Rothwell for a solid minute until looking for some more leg kicks. Not much action for the final two minutes until an inadvertent kick to the groin from Rothwell. Bell rings upon restart and Rothwell takes round one 10-9 on the Sun's scorecard.

Erik Koch vs. Dustin Poirier

Third Round Koch is backing off again, but Poirier is relentless. He hits him with a right hook to get the final round underway. They clinch up against the cage and Poirier works his knees. Koch surprisingly surges forward and secures a takedown. It's some of his first offense all evening. Crowd tries to encourage him with coordinated claps, but Koch needs a lot more. He's going to have to finish Poirier. And that seems far-fetched at the moment as Poirier is staying comfortable on his back. Koch finally breaks out and hits Poirier hard with two elbows. Poirier fires back from the ground. Koch takes his back with 1:25 to go and, all of a sudden, this could go either way. Poirier must fight to stay out of a rear-naked choke. It looks like Koch almost has it, but Poirier hand fights his way out. Poirier goes to all fours in an attempt to dump Koch off of his back. It doesn't work, but he's surviving which is half of the battle. Koch briefly looks for an armbar, but then gets the neck again with 10 seconds to go. He can't secure it. Koch wins round three 10-9 but the Sun sides with Poirier 29-27 overall. Judges see it the same, as Poirier wins a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27).

Second Round Poirier stays on the aggressive track and Koch still looks wobbly. Poirier hits Koch clean at the minute mark with a straight right. Koch circles to the other side of the cage, but Poirier follows with a body shot. Poiriertakes Koch down when they lock up. Poirier attempts to take Koch's back and gets one leg secured. He's jostling for position with the other, but winds up in mount instead. Koch eats three straight uppercuts as the crowd gasps. Poirier is all over him. Koch gets to his feet with two minutes to go. His shorts are falling off — never seen that before — but there's no time to adjust with Poirier smothering him. Koch pulls trunks back on tight. What a relief. His face isn't looking so good, however, as Poirier scores with another combination. Koch finally gets a punch to go as a counter, but this round was all Poirier again. The Sun scores it 10-9 to put Poirier ahead 20-17.

First Round There's an early exchange of leg kicks, but not much else. Poirier is coming forward and lands a straight right. He drops Koch with a hook right before the minute mark. Poirier swarms in and he might have been reckless. Koch puts him in a body triangle, and then transitions to a kimura attempt. The crowd is on their feet as Koch goes back to the choke. Poirier is doing everything he can to get out, and finally succeeds. He's solidly in Koch's guard now. Koch leaves his face open and Poirier blasts him with hammerfists. Koch has to allow Poirier up. Poirier taunts him to come forward. Koch does, but only presses Poirier against the cage. Poirier turns him around. Koch lands a couple knees, but it looks like his nose is already bloodied. They break out and exchange punches before Poirier drops Koch with another right hand. Koch is in real trouble this time. Poirier unleashes the ground and pound, but the referee hasn't seen enough. Koch gets to his feet for a split second before Poirier trips him down. Thirty seconds to go and Poirier transitions to a side choke. Koch barely holds on. Poirier did enough for 10-8 round on the Sun's scorecard.

Pre-main card

Not too long ago, mixed martial arts fans would have to wait months in between cards from the world’s largest promotion.

They barely have to wait days anymore. The UFC puts on card No. 2 in a span of three in 10 days tonight at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The only prolonged wait enthusiasts sometimes must endure these days is between marquee, championship-caliber cards. In any case, that also ends tonight.

UFC 164 is a card that doesn’t lack for intrigue from top to bottom. The odds paint it as the most competitive for the year. Four of the five fights on the pay-per-view pit two top-10 ranked opponents within their respective divisions against each other.

Oh, and there’s a rematch that everyone has bandied about for the past three years in the main event. It can’t get much better than a lightweight championship bout between Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis.

Their first fight was an instant classic for the WEC title won by Pettis, but Henderson’s career has gone more smoothly in the aftermath. While Pettis dropped his first fight in the UFC, Henderson ran right through three opponents en route to a title shot that he converted in.

Henderson has held on to the belt through three defenses — though controversially in two of them — and Pettis has gotten back to winning himself. Their second meeting was inevitable. UFC 164, in Pettis’ hometown, just happens to be where it landed.

As loud as the arena will get for the main event, the crowd is poised to be just as energized for the secondary feature. It’s not often two former heavyweight champions battle in this day and age, but that’s what the matchup between Frank Mir and Josh Barnett entails.

Mir held the belt in 2004, and the interim strap two years later. Barnett’s reign goes back two years earlier, until he had to vacate the championship for a positive drug test.

A future champion might be in the fight before Mir vs. Barnett. Chad Mendes has rolled past everyone in the featherweight division except for champion Jose Aldo.

Clay Guida, who just two years ago gave Henderson a scare, awaits Mendes on this night.

The main card will kick off with a featherweight bout between Erik Koch and Dustin Poirier that leads into a heavyweight title pairing Ben Rothwell with Brandon Vera.

Stay tuned to lasvegassun.com all night for a round-by-round scoring blog of the main card and look below for full results from preliminary bouts.

Gleison Tibau defeated Jamie Varner by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 27-29) in a lightweight bout. After falling in the preliminary main event, Varner will have to hope training partner Benson Henderson can make up for at the top of the main card.

Tim Elliott ruthlessly beat Louis Gaudinot for 15 minutes to the point that a decision in the flyweight bout was as clear as the glass adorning the suites in the Bradley Center. Elliott destroyed Gaudinot on the scorecards — 30-27, 30-26, 30-26.

There's a legitimate prospect in the welterweight division from South Korea. His name is Hyun Gyu Lim. Improving to 2-0 in the UFC, Gyu Lim knocked out Pascal Krauss, who fights out of Milwaukee, at 3:58 of the first round with a flying knee among other forms of striking punishment.

Chico Camus literally stole a bantamweight win in the final 10 seconds. The Milwaukee local nailed Kyung Ho Kang with an upkick right before the bell in the third round to take the deciding round. The judges sided with Camus over Ho Kang by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).

The preliminary card's lone heavyweight fight isn't going to end up on any UFC highlight DVDs. Both Soa Palelei and Nikita Krylov succumbed to complete exhaustion by the middle of the second round. It was the Australian who had just enough life left, as Palelei won by TKO over Krylov at 1:34 of the first round.

Al Iaquinta defeated Ryan Couture by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in a lightweight bout. Iaquinta pelted Couture with a mixture of body shots and head kicks to the point that it was a minor miracle he survived for 15 minutes.

So, that wasn't the best takedown to shoot for. Magnus Cedenblad submitted Jared Hamman 57 seconds into the first round of their middleweight bout, when he locked in a guillotine choke after a sloppy double-leg takedown attempt.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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