When it was announced that Josh “The Punk” Thomson would be replacing T.J. Grant to face Anthony “Showtime” Pettis for the UFC Lightweight title, at UFC on Fox 9, critics immediately predicted Pettis would win by knockout in the first round.
Unfortunately the UFC Lightweight champion had to pull out of the fight due to injury.
As for Thomson, he will now face former UFC and WEC Lightweight champion Benson “Smooth” Henderson at UFC on Fox 10, Jan. 25, 2014. With Henderson being a former champion who successfully defended his title three times before dropping it to Pettis, he will be a good challenge for Thomson to see if The Punk is ready to fight for the lightweight title.
During his reign, Henderson fought top guys like Gilbert Melendez, Nate Diaz and Frankie Edgar. Thomson has gone 1-2 against Melendez and became the first man to knockout Diaz back in April.
On paper Henderson and Thomson both have good grappling and striking. They are durable in their fights and hard to finish. Pettis did submit Henderson, but it had been six years since the Smooth fighter had been finished in a fight. As for Thomson, the last time he had been knocked out was back in 2004 by Yves Edwards. In his losses against great strikers like Melendez and Tatsuya Kawajiri, he went with the distance with both of them.
If Thomson defeats Henderson, there is little doubt that he is ready for a crack at the lightweight title; however the UFC may decide to let Grant fight Pettis for the belt first.
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