First off, let me inform you that I'm a cynic in every sense of the word. Through my travels on this Earth, I've become enlightened and embittered about the world around me. My girlfriend can no longer enjoy watching TV because I'm always right there next to her, explaining that what she's watching is entirely fake and should be taken with several grains of salt.
I try to bite my tongue, at least for others, but I cannot. The more I observe, the less I believe. I can barely make it through a news broadcast without calling shenanigans at least once, so reality shows and the like are pretty much out of the question.
I also want to inform you, for those who haven't read my previous articles, I used to be an enormous pro wrestling fan. For probably 18 years, I obsessed over every detail and nuance associated with wrestling.
I did this with the knowledge that wrestling was, and is, entirely scripted. Planned out. Rehearsed. Many times it is written down word for word and gone over countless times before being acted out on television.
My observations of wrestling brought me a great understanding of the art of "selling" a move or injury. I understand the craft of slapping your shoulder as your opponent hits the ropes to signal the next move. I understood the subtlety and skill of slipping away off-screen to receive a blade from the referee. I understood that having long hair made it infinitely easier to sell and avoid incoming shots while snapping your head back upon impact.
Basically, I'm trying to say that I've been sniffing out and finding bullsh*t ever since I was a little kid. And when there's this much smoke, there's a fire nearby.
I'm talking, of course, about the famed "Showtime Kick" performed by Anthony Pettis on Ben Henderson at WEC 53.
Or should I say "Fauxtime Kick?"
It was the final minute of the final round of the final fight in WEC history, with the title on the line. The entire company and everyone involved in it is about to make a scary and risky merger with the UFC. The event, and more importantly the fight, had to be a success.
Luckily for them, they couldn't have "scripted" a better farewell.
I'm not doubting the success of the WEC or their final show by any means. It was an amazing end to an amazing promotion, and I will forever miss all the memorable fights we got from them.
I'm saying it was so amazing because, well, certain measures were taken to ensure that Pettis' Matrix-Kick went off without a hitch—measures that make me sick to my stomach to this day, and at the time, threatened to take away from me one of the few things in this world l still believe in: MMA.
I've watched the video a million times, maybe more. And I see the same thing every single time.
I see a somewhat awkward break in the action. Pettis backs Henderson up against the cage, throws a half-assed kick that misses, and then—it happens. They break into a beautifully choreographed scene of betrayal and headkicks I just can't believe no matter how many times I see them.
They make eye contact, there's a brief nod, and Henderson proceeds to lift his leg and touch the corner with his left foot. Wiping off his foot, perhaps? Possibly making sure the cage was still behind him? If only.
Henderson kicks the cage, giving the sign to Pettis that, yeah, this is happening. Henderson then circles the cage as Pettis runs towards him and kicks off the cage, launching into the Showtime Kick that made him famous. I must mention the circling and running from both men here is spot-on. It had to happen exactly this way for the kick to come anywhere close.
Henderson knew this. He circled appropriately, dropped his hands when the kick came and did his best Bret Hart hairflip as the kick came. Wham! The closest thing to a Matrix kick we may ever see in MMA.
Again, yes, it looks awesome. To normal people who can sit there and enjoy things without picking them apart, it was an amazing moment never to be forgotten. Unfortunately, I lost my naivety with my V-card back in high school, and I wasn't buying it.
When the fight ended, and they continued showing the replay, every time it felt like a kick in my head. A real one. I felt more than insulted. I felt like I just caught the sport I fell in love with cheating on me while millions of people cheered and accepted it.
It's no coincidence I haven't written on this site in months and months. I've had a ton going on in my life personally, and unfortunately, the only MMA-related incident in a long time that's gotten me riled up enough to get on here and write about it is this.
I'm not trying to ruin the kick for people, nor am I trying to sway people over to the dark side. I firmly believe that 99 percent of MMA is and has been legitimate, and I will hopefully continue to enjoy it until the day I die. I'm saying that it's things like the Pettis kick that threaten to take that away from me, and if by shedding a little light on the situation prevents it from happening again, then I'm glad I did this.
For those who are just dying to finish the article so you can tear into me in the comments, know that I'm a big fan of people admitting when they are wrong, and so I'll leave you with this.
If the Showtime Kick was, in fact, a real kick that Henderson had no idea was coming, then my hat goes off to Pettis. Congratulations, dude. You are so freaking incredible as a fighter that I can't even believe the things you do are real.
But if it was rehearsed, as I have a terrible feeling it was, then screw both of them and whoever else was involved with that fight.
Think about this: We still haven't found Jimmy Hoffa. Dinosaurs aren't mentioned in the Bible. There are dozens of 9/11 conspiracy websites up and running a decade after the towers fell. Am I really that crazy for thinking the WEC pulled one over on us?
- Justin "The Juice" Orel