|© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports|
Former UFC Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis rallied to a huge one punch knockout of ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in the dying embers of the second round last night in the main event of UFC Fight Night Nashville, to firmly shake up the Welterweight rankings on his divisional debut.
Finding it difficult to get inside Thompson’s guard and land significant shots, Pettis elected to target the lead leg of Thompson but was notably getting picked apart with a lightening jab, karate blitzes and front leg side kicks to the body. Bloodied from the beating for the majority of the first and second, Pettis sprung off the cage after Thompson landed a front leg side kick, landing a ‘superman punch’ which rendered the Simpsonville native unconscious with just five seconds to go before the buzzer. arguably the only significant strike ‘Showtime’ had landed upstairs all night against Thompson apart from a couple of jabs. Thompson’s distance control was impeccable last night up until the finish, circling away from the newly aggressive, pace pushing Pettis, as well as switching stances and creating angles to counter. It remains to be seen where the newly minted Welterweight Pettis lands on the rankings after stopping the #3 ranked ‘Wonderboy’, but there are no shortage of entertaining fights available to ‘Showtime’ up and down the division.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Kevin Lee winner: A fight that Anthony Pettis called for straight after the win over Thompson was a rematch with the man who took his Lightweight title from him, Rafael dos Anjos. The pair met back in 2015 at UFC 185, where RDA picked up a unanimous decision and relieved ‘Showtime’ of his champion status with an incredibly smothering performance. dos Anjos is already scheduled to meet Kevin Lee in the main event of UFC Fight Night Rochester on May 18th. which puts the kibosh on an immediate rematch between the pair. Wisconsin native Pettis is eyeing a July return to the Octagon, on International Fight Week at UFC 239 in particular, and a contest with the winner of RDA vs. Lee seems to fit the bill for July 6th.
Justin Gaethje vs. Edson Barboza winner: Another idea brought to the forefront for the UFC matchmakers by Pettis while speaking with Daniel Cormier, was a possible meeting with the victor of UFC Fight Night Philadelphia’s main event pairing of Justin Gaethje, and another former foe, Edson Barboza. Barboza and Pettis clashed back at UFC 197 in 2016 with the Brazilian scoring a hugely impressive unanimous decision, showcasing some brutal leg kicks to boot. This match up would spell the Lightweight return for Pettis once again, but would guarantee fireworks no doubt. A potential rematch with Muay Thai expert Barboza may produce better success for the more aggressive Pettis as of late, with Edson often finding it difficult to execute his sniper precision kicking game when pressed for the majority of the fight. A meeting with former WSOF king Justin Gaethje speaks for itself. UFC 239 also spells a possible landing point for either of these match ups.
Conor McGregor: An unlikely match up to say the least, especially in 2019. Former two weight world champion McGregor ‘called’ for the match up on Twitter last night. It seems this potential bout has come and gone, McGregor was making his approach to the Featherweight title against José Aldo in the same year as Pettis lost the 155lbs crown, and subsequently lost his next two Octagon walks, firmly placing the final nail in the coffin of an exciting match up. Pettis, as mentioned earlier, is keen on a July 6th. return which matches the expected return of ‘The Notorious’ one who is still opponent-less for UFC 239. ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone has since been paired with Al Iaquinta, the supposed Jorge Masvidal clash is said to be just rumblings, while a Nate Diaz rubber match seems the most likely option, especially considering the ongoing Tony Ferguson situation. If the often fickle Diaz fails to make the July date, Conor McGregor vs. Anthony Pettis doesn’t seem dead and buried after all.
Senior writer for FightBook MMA. An aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Producer of news articles, interviews, opinion features, and exclusive features such as, ‘The Fallout’, ‘The Breakdown, and, ‘This Week In MMA’.
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