Anthony Pettis has broken down exactly why he felt compelled to test the waters at 170lbs by taking on Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson at UFC Nashville.
The former lightweight champion and interim-featherweight title-challenger’s decision to take a fight at welterweight was one that was met with quite a confused response from the MMA world.
Thompson, like ‘Showtime’, possesses one of the most phenomenal striking styles that the sport has ever seen – one that saw him pave his way towards a pair of shots at the divisional champion Tyron Woodley.
Now, he finds himself in an odd state of limbo – unlikely to earn another shot at the belt while it’s in Woodley’s possession, but still amongst the elite-of-the-elite in the division.
The former champion Showtime doesn’t appear to be likely to break into the title-picture at lightweight this year – both due to his recent loss against Tony Ferguson and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Speaking to BJPenn.com, Pettis explained his reasoning behind making the switch to 170lbs after a run in the UFC that had seen him compete both at 155lb and 145lbs.
“Honestly, at 155 I practically fought the entire division. There are a couple guys who I have fought that I want some rematches. The division is in a pause right now. Of course, some things need to be figured out, but I also thought of going to welterweight.
“I actually fought at welterweight early in my career in Wisconsin. ‘Wonderboy’ it’s just he is one of those guys I need to fight before I’m done. Before I retire I want to fight in the fights I want, and personally, that was one of the fights I wanted.
“I like his style, I come from a Tae-Kwon Do background he comes from a Karate background. It is an entertaining fight. He is just one of those guys who will come to fight.”
Many have voiced their confusion at the fight and what little it does for both guys at this point in their respective careers but with it now signed and sealed for March 23, we may as well look at it for what it is – a matchup between two of the very best strikers in the game.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena