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Anthony Pettis |

When Anthony Pettis launched off the cage and kicked Benson Henderson in the face at WEC 53, he was using a move he’d been practicing for 16 years.

“I’ve been doing traditional martial arts and taekwondo my whole life, and that’s like a basic demo kick,” Pettis said Monday during a “Savage Dog Show” interview on the Sherdog Radio Network. “We throw those kicks at demos. I was throwing that kick at 7 years old. It’s crazy how it landed in the cage.”

Crazy if for no other reason than Pettis had never even planned on turning to such a high-risk maneuver.

“Honestly, no, I never thought I would have the guts to throw that kick,” he said. “It’s a risky move because we could be having a totally different conversation right now. He could have thrown a punch and caught me jumping off the cage. But it’s just one of them things. I felt it. I was just like, ‘I’m going for it. It’s the fifth round, title fight. Everything that I want is riding on this fight.’ And it worked out good for me.”

The response has been better than good -- it’s been overwhelming.

“I had like 700 unread text messages,” Pettis said of what he returned to after vacation. “My voicemail still doesn’t work because I’ve got to catch up on that. My e-mail is crazy. I can’t even get Facebook friends no more. It’s crazy how much exposure that kick gave me.”

The kick also helped earn Pettis a UFC lightweight title shot. He won a unanimous decision over Henderson and will fight the winner of Saturday’s UFC 125 championship bout between titleholder Frankie Edgar and challenger Gray Maynard. Pettis prefers a matchup against Edgar.

“I would like to fight Frankie Edgar just for the fact that his style -- he beat B.J. Penn twice,” Pettis said. “Gray Maynard’s also another tough, tough fighter. It’s just one of them things where it’s gonna be a tough fight. Both fights are going to be a tough fight.”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:14:25) with Pettis, who also discussed his 17-year-old brother’s talent for fighting and a long-term future in MMA.

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