History in the making: Anthony Pettis makes his WEC debut by tapping Mike Campbell in Sacramento

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

"Pettis is the real deal." --Kenny Florian, following "Showtime's" WEC debut (and ensuing back flip).

It was the most anticipated rematch in the history of World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC).

The WEC 41: "Brown vs. Faber 2" event on Versus, which emanated from the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California, back on June 7, 2009, was headlined by former featherweight champion Urijah Faber, as he looked to reclaim his 145-pound strap from new division kingpin, Mike Brown.

By the time the champ had retained his title in a five-round "Fight of the Night," the promotion shattered its live gate and attendance records, originally set by "The California Kid" at the same location back in 2008.

In addition, both fans and media were busy talking about the new faces of mixed martial arts (MMA), including future Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 145-pound titleholder Jose Aldo, who lit up the rough-and-tumble Cub Swanson in just eight seconds via flying knee.

Curiously enough, the post-fight reports spent little time or energy talking about Anthony Pettis.

Instead, the "Prelims" focus was placed on UFC import Manny Gamburyan, who rose to fame on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5, but struggled with consistency inside the Octagon in subsequent fights. "Manvil" made a successful debut at featherweight -- and hijacked the headlines -- by outworking John Pranchi.

The man they called "Showtime" wasn't getting any time to show what he could do.


That's because WEC was still considered the little engine that could, an offshoot of UFC where the lighter-weight fighters went to ply their trade. In addition, Pettis was just 22 years old and making his ZUFFA debut on a card that also featured top stars like Donald Cerrone and Jens Pulver.

The Roufusport-product was lost in the shuffle.

One person who did take notice was former world-class powerlifter, Mike Campbell. After jumping out to a perfect 6-0 start to his professional career, "The Beast" was tamed in his WEC debut by Danillo Villefort and likely in a big hurry to prove he still belonged.

Perhaps he did, just not against Pettis.

As the opening frame gets underway, Campbell assumes a southpaw stance and lumbers in with a body kick. Pettis returns fire, but his defender grabs a leg and scoops him up for a slam. As soon as "Showtime" leaves his feet, he sinks in a deep guillotine and beings to squeeze.

Campbell sprints across the cage and dives to the canvas.

The impact is enough to break the hold, but he's not out of danger just yet. Pettis locks up an arm and torques it without remorse as "The Beast" rolls to defend and powers out. Cageside color commentator, Kenny Florian, is elated at the fast and furious action.

"Beautiful exchange of techniques here!"

With Pettis on his back, Campbell dives in and out of guard with bomb after bomb. While a couple of shots find their mark, the aggressor goes to the well once too often and quickly finds himself tangled up in "Showtime's" legs. Regrettably, his ability to move heavy metal inside the weight room is of no consequence.

Less than two minutes into the fight, "The Beast" is forced to tap.

Pettis would be tripped up in his sophomore effort by Bart Palaszewski, but roared back to win four straight, including a five-round unanimous decision over Ben Henderson at WEC 53, a performance that awarded him the lightweight championship, as well as a place in the highlight-reel hall of fame for his "Showtime Kick."

That's a performance he hopes to replicate at UFC 164: "Henderson vs. Pettis 2," the upcoming pay-per-view (PPV) event at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 31, 2013. Once again, "Smooth" holds the strap and will be forced to keep history from repeating itself.

Win or lose, Pettis will at least leave "Brew Town" as the headlining act, a far cry from his ZUFFA debut just over four years ago.

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