Anthony Pettis vs Stephen Thompson Postmortem

Anthony Pettis
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - MARCH 23: (R-L) Anthony Pettis punches Stephen Thompson in their welterweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Bridgestone Arena on March 23, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The hype surrounding UFC Fight Night 148‘s main event has not yet begun to die down. Following one of the most spectacular knockouts of the year, let’s reflect on Anthony Pettis vs. Stephen Thompson.

How the Fight Came Together

Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis went into his fight against Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson as a heavy underdog. His call-out of Thompson came as a surprise to fans, journalists, and to ‘Wonderboy‘ himself.

Since losing the title to Rafael Dos Anjos around four years ago, Pettis has gone 3-5 at lightweight and briefly at featherweight. The idea of him moving up 15 pounds to fight the number-three-ranked welterweight in the world seemed like a guaranteed loss. Even if they were the same size theoretically, it wasn’t a very good match-up. Sure, he would stand with Pettis, but Thompson’s striking didn’t appear to be a good match-up for anybody.

Prior to his MMA career, Stephen Thompson went 37-0 as an amateur kickboxer and 20-0 as a pro. So yes, he would face Pettis on his terms, but only because he was so dangerous in that realm himself.

In fact, the danger he presents is a large part of why Pettis likely got the fight to begin with. Seemingly, nobody at 170 wanted to fight Thompson. At least, that was the word on the street. Yet here was a former champion, from a lower weight class, four years removed from his title reign, issuing a challenge.

The Fight Lead-up

Pettis’ long-time coach Duke Roufus had experience preparing fighters to beat Thompson. He was a part of two different training camps preparing Tyron Woodley to defend his belt against the accomplished karate-style kickboxer.

Roufus also had ten rounds of footage where he could study exactly how Thompson responds to his strategies. Even more interesting, Pettis was a more polished striker than Woodley. But then again, Thompson wouldn’t have to worry about a takedown from an explosive two-time Division 1 All-American wrestler while standing with Anthony Pettis. With all these factors considered, Pettis remained a blatant underdog. Wonderboy was a tactical Rubik’s Cube and Pettis was a puzzle that had been solved years ago.

UFC Fight Night 148
Anthony Pettis vs Stephen Thompson

The fight began and Pettis was doing reasonably well. He was landing kicks to the body and to Thompson’s lead leg. He was also absorbing short shots from Thompson.

By the second round, Pettis’ mouth was wide open after Thompson turned his nose into a crimson waterfall. Though Pettis was performing surprisingly well, he was wearing noticeable damage fairly early into a five-round main event. This didn’t look good for his longevity, but ultimately, that didn’t matter.

With his back against the cage, Pettis suddenly landed a flush superman punch. ‘Wonderboy’ toppled over similarly to how Darren Till did just two weeks ago in London. The back of his head crashed upon the canvas and Pettis landed a few extra shots on the ground for good measure. Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis had defeated Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson via knockout at 4:55 of the second round.

The Aftermath

With such a definitive victory, Pettis is now the subject of many new exciting matchups. Any top striker at welterweight is an exciting prospective opponent for Pettis. He could fight Darren Till, Robbie Lawler, Leon Edwards, Jorge Masvidal, Santiago Ponzinibbio, and plenty more 170 pounders.

These talks aren’t limited to welterweight. Pettis was once half of a widely discussed super-fight that almost came to fruition in the UFC. The other half of said super-fight was the longest reigning featherweight champion, Jose Aldo. It’s no secret that Aldo plans on retiring once he completes his UFC contract. After his impressive TKO victory over Renato Moicano, he only has two fights remaining with the UFC. He has also expressed interest in fighting at lightweight before he calls it a career. Aldo is currently scheduled to face Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 237 on May 11th, 2019. After that fight, he will have one more bout left. Win or lose, the stars could finally be aligning for an Anthony Pettis vs Jose Aldo showdown.

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