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Falling Action: Best and Worst of WEC 53

So let me get this straight: J.R. Smith dunks a basketball and it's named the day's top play in all of sports by ESPN's Sportscenter. Meanwhile, at WEC 53 Anthony Pettis pulls off a head kick that would make Jackie Chan blush, and that's No. 2?

Now, I don't want to act like a jerk about something that's relatively minor (which is, of course, what you say right before you act like a jerk about something that's relatively minor), but seriously? What Pettis did was practically superhuman. Just to even think you could pull off a kick like that is so ambitious that it borders on delusional. To actually do it against the WEC lightweight champion in the fifth round of a title fight, that's a once in a lifetime moment.

Then again, I suppose it doesn't compare to a slam dunk. That only happens every single night during basketball season, and that doesn't even count the "And 1" tour.

I suppose we should be glad that MMA is mentioned at all on Sportscenter. It's taken so long just to show up on their radar that it still feels slightly amazing to see it finally treated like a real sport. But personally, I'm through being happy just to get a seat at the table. Pettis deserved to sit at its head last night, and those of us who appreciate the sheer awesomeness of what he did already know that.

Here endeth the rant. Now on to the big winners, losers, and everything in between after the WEC's final event.

Biggest Winner: Anthony Pettis
I wish I could have been in the gym the first time Pettis decided to try launching himself off the cage to land a head kick. Actually, maybe it's better I wasn't there, because I probably would have said that this was an insane idea that would never work in a real fight. Shows you what I know. Pettis will now enter the UFC with a full head of steam and a highlight that will follow him for the rest of his career, but does he have a chance against the winner of the Frankie Edgar-Gray Maynard lightweight title fight? Hard to say. But anybody with moves like that, you can't ever count him out entirely.

Biggest Loser: Scott Jorgensen
On Tuesday he called Dominick Cruz's style 'point fighting.' He shrugged off the idea of watching tape or studying up on his opponent because, as he explained it, he was just going to go in there and take it to him like he always did. Yeah, that didn't exactly work out. Jorgensen couldn't even find Cruz for most of their bantamweight title fight, and when he did manage to locate him it was usually by stopping a Cruz right hand with his face. Even when he got Cruz to the mat, he couldn't keep him there any more than he could stop Cruz's takedowns late in the fight. It's almost as if going into a fight against an opponent with a unique, complex style requires a better game plan than just getting in his face and roughing him up. At least now we know that. Even if most of us could have guessed it from the start.

Announcing His Presence with Authority: Eddie Wineland
A few weeks ago, in one of our Fighter vs. Writer articles, Shonie Carter predicted a victory by "monkeybomb." I had no idea what that meant at the time, but it all made sense when I saw Wineland's monstrous slam of Ken Stone. What followed was a few scary moments at cageside as Stone lay motionless on the mat, but he went to the hospital and was released the same night, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief. While we do that though, we should pay close attention to Wineland, who's looked better and better lately. The guy has explosive power, as he showed on Thursday, and it should be interesting to see where he goes from here.

Worst Idea Leading to Predictable Results: Chris Horodecki
I'm still puzzling over the decision to take Donald Cerrone down and test his submissions game from the guard. Horodecki is primarily a striker, and while he wasn't exactly dominating the stand-up in the first round, he wasn't getting killed either. Taking down a taller, lankier fighter with a penchant for the triangle choke is like putting your own head on the chopping block, and completely unnecessarily so. Horodecki's still young and could be an interesting prospect in the UFC, but perhaps at a lighter weight class, and with a smarter approach.

Most Impressive in Defeat: Ben Henderson
Against 90% of WEC lightweights, Henderson likely would have finished the fight with that rear naked choke. Unfortunately for him, Pettis is a great survivor, and possibly also a ninja. It was all Henderson could do to choke back tears in the post-fight press conference, and you can't blame him. It's clear that this loss is going to sting for a while, but he proved that he's a UFC-caliber fighter on Thursday night. My guess is he'll prove it again once he gets his first shot in the Octagon.

Least Impressive in Victory: Kamal Shalorus
He started strong and faded fast against Bart Palaszewski, who he probably should have been able to finish in the first round. The performance adds another page to the scouting report on Shalorus, which, as of right now, describes a guy with a lot of talent who is not even close to making the most of it. I don't know if the problem is a lack of cardio or a lack of killer instinct, but this showing didn't make Shalorus a lot of friends in the UFC. He's going to have to change people's perceptions soon if he wants to stick around.

Most Dominant: Dominick Cruz
Criticism of Jorgensen's game plan aside, I have to admit that I can't think of many good ways to fight a guy like Cruz. He's too fast for you to hang back and try to counter, too elusive to methodically hunt down, and too good a wrestler to grind away at from the top. The only openings he provides to an opponent is when he's scrambling back to his feet after a takedown, and even then it's a window of opportunity that closes in the blink of an eye. A rematch with Urijah Faber makes the most sense right now, and doing it after a season worth of reality TV coaching and smack-talking sounds like a lot of fun. If only the UFC felt the same way, we might be on to something.

Least Likely to Remain Employed: Jamie Varner
When you fight on the undercard in your own hometown, and do so to a mixed bag of cheers and jeers, it's a sign that you have an image problem. It seems like no matter what he does, Varner is just so unlikable. That's fine when you're winning. Just ask Josh Koscheck. But when you lose a couple in a row it quickly becomes an untenable position. Unless the UFC is really hard up for heels in the WEC merger, Varner will probably be headed to the unemployment line after this most recent defeat.

Lucrative Foreign Market-Killer: Danny Downes
Maybe "Danny Boy" didn't get the memo, but the UFC is trying to break into China at the moment. Unless you're Richard Nixon or a bootleg DVD, that's hard enough to begin with. It doesn't help matters to have a guy like Downes exposing "The Mongolian Wolf" for all to see. It's a huge win for Downes, but probably a major bummer for the Zuffa money men who were eyeing a vast new market. This doesn't mean MMA in China is dead, by any means. It just means they might have to become Danny Downes fans for now.

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