Shane Roller (8-2-0) vs. Anthony Pettis (9-1-0)
Since suffering the first loss of his career, Anthony Pettis has headkicked Danny Castillo to the opening bout of this event and forced Alex Karalexis to tap to a smooth triangle. Both outings have shown why “Showtime” feels he’s ready for primetime, and another win here would certainly help do the trick.
That will be easier said than done, of course, as Roller most recently disposed of kickboxer Anthony Njokuani in quick fashion. A former All-American at Oklahoma State University, Roller blends his wrestling well with improving jiu jitsu learned under the watchful eye of Marc Laimon.
With lightweight champion Ben Henderson having pretty much already cleaned out the high end of the division, the winner here could be in line for a title shot once “Smooth” gets back from getting married.
Dominick Cruz (15-1-0) vs. Joseph Benavidez (12-1-0)
Cruz earned his championship gold in one of the oddest endings in quite some time. The broadcast cut away to commercial at the close of the second round, and when it returned, Brian Bowles had thrown in the towel, giving Cruz the bantamweight belt to call his own.
With outstanding footwork and hand speed, “The Dominator” has done nothing but win since dropping to the 135-pound limit, and that includes handing Benavidez the lone loss of his career last year.
Despite being soundly beaten the first time around, you have to be impressed with the way Benavidez has responded to that loss. First he knocked out Rani Yahya in just over ninety seconds, and he followed it up by dismantling Miguel Torres, leaving the former champion with a gruesome gash on his forehead before forcing him to tap.
This has the potential to challenge for Fight of the Year.