Stephen Thompson has vowed to attack his UFC Nashville opponent Anthony Pettis with more aggression than he has been displaying of late.
And that lack of aggression truly has been something that has seen the former-title challenger criticised in the last few years.
During his rise towards his eventual shot at the belt, Thompson utilized every tool in his arsenal to earn several highlight-reel KO’s over the likes of Johny Hendricks, Jake Ellenberger and Dan Stittgen that saw him establish himself as one of the most-feared strikers in the sport.
However, following a pair of showdowns with the champ Tyron Woodley that saw a much more gun-shy approach and a narrow but relatively uneventful defeat to Darren Till in Liverpool – it’s clear that Thompson will have to reevaluate his approach when he steps in to face former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis at UFC Nashville.
Speaking on a recent appearance on the UFC Unfiltered podcast, Wonderboy explained how his preparation this time around has focussed on attacking Pettis with more aggression.
“One of the things I’ve worked on is being a little more aggressive. Not overly aggressive when you see guys run out there and get knocked out, but stepping out there, letting them feel my presence the same way I did Johny Hendricks.
“That was a mindset I had when I stepped out there. I had a lot of respect for Johny Hendricks, but I didn’t care. I just went out there and did my own thing. Didn’t really care what he was going to do, which I think the last fights I really was (caring).” (via LowKick MMA)
Pettis’ own style, which is rooted in taekwondo – does seem like an interesting contrast to the karate Wonderboy brings to the table – something the welterweight contender agrees with.
Doubling down on the fact that he believes this to be a tough matchup – Thompson gave Showtime credit for his approach and his confidence in his ability to overcome him once the octagon doors close.
“I think out of everyone I’ve faced so far in the welterweight division, he is going to be the one most familiar with my style than any of them, because he’s a taekwondo specialist and you’ve seen him fight. His distance management is off the chart. He’s very good. He familiar with that style growing up in taekwondo.
“Do I think it’s going to be an easy fight? No, not at all. I’m going to be prepared for the best, for a five-round war with this guy. Even though he’s fought (at) 145, 155 (pounds) – like he said, a straight shot to the chin can take anyone out no matter how big you are. It feels different. Him and his coach, I think they took the fight because they think they have my number.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena