It’s been a couple of days now since the MMA world learned that TJ Grant was not going to be able to fight lightweight champ Anthony Pettis at UFC on FOX 9 as hoped, and that Josh Thomson would step in for the contender. Since Grant had already been forced out of a title fight with Benson Henderson due to a concussion, and Pettis had called out featherweight champ Jose Aldo, no one was expecting Thomson would be the first to challenge “Showtime” for his title.
In a recent interview with MMA Junkie.com, “The Punk” revealed he was also shocked when he was offered to fight Pettis, especially since the UFC had just asked him about fighting another top lightweight.
“I never thought this would happen, to be honest,” said Thomson, who hasn’t fought April when he stopped Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 7. “There was a lot of talk of me fighting (Rafael) dos Anjos. When I called and said I would really like to fight in Sacramento (at UFC on FOX 9), there was talk of, ‘We’ll see what’s going on with dos Anjos. We’ll call you back.’ And that call back was, ‘Hey, do you want to fight Pettis?’
Although Thomson is a well rounded fighter and also an ex-Strikeforce champ, chances are he’ll be the consensus underdog heading into his December 14th bout with Pettis. When asked how he’ll approach the champion in their upcoming fight, the 34 year-old stated:
“My solution has been the same for every opponent,” Thomson said. “I’ve got to work him on the feet. I’ve got to be in and out of the pocket, take him down, out-grapple him, touch him with my hands, and touch him with my feet. I’ve got to mix it up and keep him guessing at all times.”
“You get fixated on one thing with him, he’s going to beat you. [Pettis] is going to stay calm and relaxed like he did with Benson, never wilting under the pressure, and I’ve got to stay the same. Just use my experience to my advantage, and take the fight to him.”
It’s a solid main event for a increasingly stacked card. UFC on FOX 9 will be hosted by the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California.