A potentially exciting battle between two talented strikers is reportedly close to being finalized.
ESPN’s Ariel Helwani just reported that Stephen Thompson vs. Anthony Pettis has been verbally agreed upon for March 23’s UFC event, which is expected to be from Nashville, Tenn. The fight isn’t official but it expected to be finalized shortly:
Heat for the bout has been ramped up in recent weeks after former lightweight champion Pettis called out former welterweight title challenger Thompson on social media. Thompson was quick to accept the callout in his trademark polite style.
While the fight will do next to nothing for each fighter’s title chances in their respective divisions, it is no doubt an exciting match-up on paper. Pettis will be moving up to welterweight for at least this fight after competing at lightweight and even featherweight his entire career.
‘Showtime’ threw down in a bloody bonus-winning bout with Tony Ferguson at last October’s UFC 229. His corner was forced to stop the fight after he sustained an injury that left him unable to compete to his full abilities. Before that, he beat Michael Chiesa with an impressive submission at July’s UFC 226. Pettis has split his last six bouts in the Octagon.
Thompson is in serious need of a win. He was last seen losing a controversial decision to Darren Till at UFC Liverpool. Most media outlets thought he won the fight. But it officially went down as a loss for ‘Wonderboy,’ who has gone 1-2-1 in his last four bouts.
The bout promises to be a high-level striking match-up based on the backgrounds of both combatants. However, Thompson’s fights have been anything but exciting in recent years. His second fight with Tyron Woodley was panned as one of the worst welterweight title fights of all-time, and his snoozefest with Till wasn’t much better. He’s been heavily criticized for being content to look for the perfect shot and rarely pressing the pace. That perfect shot apparently hasn’t presented itself in his latest bouts either.
He has been out recovering from yet another injury since he lost to Till in May.
Pettis has shown a willingness to throw down in all-out wars lately. That’s evident from his slugfests with Ferguson and Dustin Poirier. For what it’s worth, his Roufusport camp has extensive experience preparing for Thompson due to Woodley training at the Milwaukee-located gym.