The UFC announced that the December 14th on the UFC on FOX Sports 9 card, newly minted Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis will face Josh Thomson in his first title defense. The original opponent, TJ Grant, is out due to training injuries, so Thomson gets the spot over several worthy Lightweights. This is the second title fight that Grant has been pulled from by the UFC, and though Grant is an excellent competitor, the fighters replacing him have made for a more ‘hyped’ fight.
Interested in betting on the upcoming UFC 165 event or any of the other events coming up on the UFC calendar?? Look for the lines at BETDSI and open an account now!
Thomson was impressive in his UFC return, taking out Nate Diaz. He is a former Strikeforce Champion who went 1-2 in a tough trilogy with Gilbert Melendez, and he was very impressive in his first UFC run, going 2-0 before running into an Yves Edwards kick to the neck more than 8 years ago. Thomson is a tough, balanced fighter who will match Pettis size and length. Though he may not be as tricky on the ground as Pettis, getting him there is a different story, and he has never been submitted before. Thomson brings a high revving motor and looks to set a fast pace in his fights
The other thing is that Thomson has a lot more charisma than Grant, and that likely is a factor why the UFC just didn’t postpone the fight a month or so.
Grant should take the ‘I get no respect’ route, and he should look for a fight against Benson Henderson. Give Henderson a second loss in a row, and Grant may open the eyes that he has not been able to crack yet.
Pettis, as the UFC Champion is likely to open as the favorite, though the line should be close due to Thomson’s skill set and experience. Thomson has gone a full five rounds a handful of times in his career, and Pettis has gone that distance once. With both men having solid gas tanks, it is hard to see which fighter benefits from a long fight. If the first two rouunds are split 1-1, the chances are that the fight will extend itself and could really be anybody’s fight.
Pettis will face pressure in his first title defense, but he seems to handle and enjoy the spotlight well. Nevertheless, Pettis will be looking to string together title defenses and they start with Thomson. Should Thomson win the title, it could signal the start of a revolving door to the top among a deep, talented pool of fighters.