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WEC 50: Anthony Pettis Submits Shane Roller

Anthony Pettis put on the best performance of his promising MMA career Wednesday night at WEC 50, dominating Roller for more than 14 minutes before finally getting him to tap out with just nine seconds remaining in the third round, earning a submission win and likely a World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight title shot.

Early in the fight the 23-year-old Pettis showed serious improvement in his takedown defense, keeping the fight standing against a good wrestler in Roller. He also showed off some creative striking, employing a variety of kicks that had Roller frustrated. As the fight wore on Pettis also showed a more sophisticated ground game than he had in the past, and the way he finished the fight was a thing of beauty, escaping from a guillotine choke and then catching Roller in the triangle that made Roller tap at the 4:51 mark of the third.

"He's a tough dude," Pettis said afterward. "I've never been hit this much in the face. So big ups to Shane."

The lightweight division in the WEC isn't particularly relevant in the grand scheme of things -- Zuffa's best lightweights are in the UFC -- but there are still plenty of good fights to be made in the WEC's 155-pound division, and Pettis vs. WEC lightweight champion Ben Henderson is one of them.

"I'm ready for the champ," Pettis said. "Ben, where you at?"

Pettis will find out where Henderson's at soon. Although a strong argument could be made that Bart Palaszewski is more deserving of the next title shot, all indications are that Pettis vs. Henderson is the lightweight title fight that the WEC wants to do next.