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What Will Happen ? Thompson vs. Pettis Edition

The UFC will make the trip to Nashville, Tennessee this weekend ahead of what some are calling mouth watering striking clash between two time title challenger Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson and former WEC and UFC Lightweight gold holder Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis, who makes his Welterweight division bow in the main event. Both strikers are aiming to bounce back from defeats, with ‘Wonderboy’ finding himself on the wrong end of a rather dubious decision defeat to Darren Till, while Pettis suffered a broken hand after dropping Tony Ferguson, forcing an eventual corner stoppage under the guide of coach Duke Roufus at UFC 229. Both men are very accomplished strikers with dynamic but contrasting kicking ability with Thompson opting for side kicks, wheel kicks and karate blitzes, while Pettis uses round kicks and jumping techniques on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Despite two unsuccessful attempts to take the Welterweight belt from the then welterweight king Tyron Woodley, Thompson has proved to be a legitimate threat at 170lbs and his name is cemented at the top of the game. He’s tricky puzzle to solve due to his counter striking ability to drift in and out of range and he has superb distance control, only the aforementioned Woodley, Till (albeit questionable) and veteran Matt Brown have been able to crack the Thompson code. The South Carolina favourite has faced three former or current champions already in his Octagon run, looking sensational against Johny Hendricks, Rory MacDonald and Robert Whittaker. His incredible striking ability stems from his kickboxing background where he held multiple I.S.K.A and W.A.K.O titles and finished an undefeated career with 56 victories. I believe Thompson’s incredible timing and distance management may prove dividends in this one, and ‘Wonderboy{s}’ overall stature and size for the one time Featherweight Pettis may be too much to handle come Saturday.

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The inventor of’ ‘The Showtime’ kick, former world champion Anthony Pettis is trying his hand at welterweight first time this weekend. After three consecutive defeats, The Milwaukee star has gone 3-3 in the Octagon. The Roufousport product went on a blistering run to the UFC Lightweight championship after his move from the now defunct WEC. Scoring a win over Jeremy Stephens, a head kick stoppage of Joe Lauzon and a body kick win over Donald Cerrone, before eventually taking the title from Benson Henderson with an armbar, Pettis seemed to be on a path as one of the sport’s biggest stars. After dropping the crown to Rafael Dos Anjos and two back to back losses, Pettis attempted to claim the Featherweight title. After some initial success with a guillotine win over Charles Oliveira, ‘Showtime’ missed weight for his Interim gold meeting with Max Holloway before being finished for the first time in his career. A move back to Lightweight had mixed fortunes for the 32 year-old who beat Jim Miller and Michael Chiesa in between losses to Dustin Poirier and Tony Ferguson. Pettis holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which may be his saving grace along with his 3rd dan black belt in Taekwondo.


‘Wonderboy’ has such expert distance control stemming from his kickboxing background, and we witnessed the full extent of his timing and ability to dictate the pace in his one sided beat down of former Welterweight champion Johny Hendricks. Thompson’s style has best been described as “snake like” by colour commentator Joe Rogan due to his tendency to almost bounce in and out of range to set up counters and karate blitz’s. Equipped with a lighting fast question mark and front leg side kick, ‘Wonderboy’ often utilizes these techniques to maintain distance when an opponent becomes the aggressor. Pettis on the other hand has some clean boxing behind him and the Roufusport product may have to look to his grappling similarly to the Michael Chiesa fight for his best option of success against such a wily striker as Thompson. I also imagine Pettis to be quiet undersized for the division similar to fellow former champion Rafael dos Anjos who made the transition to Welterweight two years ago.

Prediction: Stephen Thompson via knockout.

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