UFC on Fox 7 Results: 5 Fights for Josh Thomson to Take Next
Josh Thomson accomplished a remarkable feat in his ceremonious return to the UFC on Saturday.
Gracing the Octagon for the first time in nearly nine years, the 34-year-old Thomson outclassed perennial lightweight contender Nate Diaz, ultimately finishing the 28-year-old Californian with a brutal head kick and follow-up punches at UFC on Fox 7.
An emphatic win over the fourth-ranked Diaz will instantly catapult Thomson, a former Strikeforce title challenger, into the UFC's Top 10 rankings.
Here are five fights for "The Punk" to take next.
Winner of Pat Healy vs. Jim Miller
If surging former Strikeforce lightweight Pat Healy can pull off an upset over the fifth-ranked Jim Miller at UFC 159, then "Bam Bam" will find himself in a similarly advantageous position to Thomson.
Although Healy hasn't competed in the Octagon since getting choked by Anthony Torres at UFC Fight Night 6 in 2006, the 29-year-old Oregonian will be riding an impressive six-fight winning streak in his return.
Miller, on the contrary, earned an enthralling win over 10th-ranked Joe Lauzon at UFC 155 and could spring himself back into title contention with a convincing win over Healy.
Even though Lauzon's dropped two of his last three bouts, inking a scrap with the soon-to-be 29-year-old Massachusetts native would surely guarantee Thomson a captivating brawl.
Lauzon has pocketed a company-best 12 post-fight bonuses, a mark he shares with pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva.
Lauzon, who's earned post-fight bonuses in eight of his last nine bouts, also put on the UFC's "Fight of the Year" in his 2012 loss to Miller at UFC 155.
Loser of Gray Maynard vs. T.J. Grant
Following the UFC on Fox 7 event, UFC president Dana White announced that the winner of the fight between Gray Maynard and T.J. Grant at UFC 160 will fight Benson Henderson next.
The third-ranked Maynard has been deemed a 2.25-to-1 favorite (-225) over the seventh-ranked Grant, according to Bovada.com.
But regardless of who prevails, the loser of this high-profile bout would make an ideal opponent for an extraordinarily hungry Thomson.
Winner of Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Evan Dunham
Eighth-ranked Rafael dos Anjos may get the oddsmakers' blessings against Evan Dunham at UFC on FX 8, but the 28-year-old Brazilian will surely have his work cut out for him if he intends to extend his winning streak.
Although both fighters hold black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, dos Anjos will probably enjoy a slight edge in the striking department while Dunham may be the more polished wrestler.
A win over Dunham would run dos Anjos' winning streak to four matches and put him in line to square off with a top-flight opponent like Thomson.
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Jorge Masvidal surprisingly never got the opportunity to lock horns with Thomson in Strikeforce, but the 28-year-old Floridian could get his crack at The Punk after just one fight in the UFC.
A winner of four of his last five bouts, Masvidal entered the UFC in style by notching a hard-fought unanimous decision win over the surging Tim Means at UFC on Fox 7.
With his lone loss coming at the hands of former lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez in Strikeforce, Masvidal has proven that he has the chops to hang with The Punk.