MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The champ versus the hometown hero: UFC 164 at Milwaukee's BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday, August 31st was billed as the Harley-Davidson “Hometown Throwdown." And on Saturday, Milwaukee's own "Showtime" Anthony Pettis defeated "Smooth" Benson Henderson in the first round.
"It started when Dana White called and offered me the fight, to being the center of attention. I feel really good about myself. I'm real comfortable. I envisioned this for seven months after I beat Donald Cerrone. All that I dreamt about. I'm never letting it go to the judges again. I'm gonna finish everybody I fight," Pettis said.
Pettis finished Henderson before the first round ended. On his back, Pettis got Henderson in an armbar -- a move based in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that extends to opponents arm and elbow joint -- and it's definitely not a comfortable position.
"I just wish I took something besides ibuprofen -- something a little stronger," Henderson said.
The armbar wasn't what Pettis was going for. It actually started out as a mistake.
"I'm just a flashy fighter - attempted kick failed, gotta improvise," Pettis said.
Improvise he did, and it's the move that crowned him the lightweight champion -- and after months of envisioning the belt around his waist, his dream became a reality.
"All the emotions come out. I worked really hard to get this belt. Feels good to make my mom smile," Pettis said.
Family is important to Pettis. He lost his father 10 years ago, but keeps him close in every fight. In fact, after his big win on Saturday night, Pettis brought his new hardware to his father's grave site.
He also has a great relationship with his mother, and has her and his daughter's names tattooed on his chest.
"My brother was in my corner tonight so I really try to be a role model for him. Duke Roufus changed my life. Very emotional. Hasn't set in yet," Pettis said.
It may have set in a bit more now. Pettis won the fight, but didn't walk away unscathed.
"When you're fighting the best in the world, you're gonna get hurt. This guy's a warrior. Of course I'm gonna leave with some injuries," Pettis said.
After absorbing a kick from Henderson, Pettis injured his knee. He will have it tested and treated, but nothing will keep this fighter out of the ring.
"I go back and I get better. That's all. I'm 26 years old. I haven't hit my prime yet. I have so much to learn," Pettis said.
Pettis was supposed to fight T.J. Grant as part of Harley-Davidson’s 110th anniversary celebration, but Grant suffered a concussion, and Pettis himself had to bow out of a featherweight title match in Brazil after tweaking a knee in June.
So, the stars aligned for Henderson-Pettis round two.
Pettis doesn't have another fight scheduled yet, but he expressed interest in fighting the 145-pound champion. UFC President Dana White sets all the matchups, and he is staying tight-lipped for now.