Mixed martial artists come from every corner of the globe, bearing a variety of styles. Sometimes, fighters are products of their environment, favoring disciplines prevalent in the country or state from which they hail. Various regions of the United States are considered factories for great fighters, though that certainly is not the case with each state. In this weekly Sherdog.com series, the spotlight will shine on the best mixed martial artist of all-time from each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Fighters do not necessarily need to be born in a given state to represent it; they simply need to be associated with it.
While a number of accomplished mixed martial artists have come out of Wisconsin, Anthony Pettis remains the standard by which all others are measured.
Pettis ripped up the regional circuit before landing a contract with World Extreme Cagefighting, where he won four of his first five bouts before capturing the lightweight championship at WEC 53. There, in the final fight in the promotion’s history, he pulled off his remarkable “Showtime Kick,” springing off the cage to blast Benson Henderson with a foot to the face before being awarded a unanimous decision. Pettis was part of the WEC merger with the Ultimate Fighting Championship and made his Octagon debut at “The Ultimate Fighter 13” Finale on June 4, 2011, losing a decision to Clay Guida. The Roufusport star rebounded with three consecutive victories, the last two by knockout, and then submitted Henderson in their rematch to claim the UFC lightweight crown.
“Showtime” successfully defended the title with a second-round submission of Gilbert Melendez at UFC 181 before his career took a wrong turn. Pettis lost four of his next five fights, surrendering the title to Rafael dos Anjos in the process. After a move to 145 pounds yielded mixed results, the 30-year-old Milwaukee native made a triumphant return to the lightweight division at UFC 213, where he took a unanimous decision from Jim Miller and improved his record to 20-6.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Sergio Pettis, Ben Rothwell, Gerald Meerschaert, Emmanuel Sanchez, Chico Camus, Dave Strasser, Cole Konrad