UFC lightweight contender Josh Thomson was hoping to score a fight against former WEC champion Anthony Pettis, and it appears he's at least got part of the solution to make it happen.
Thomson targeted Pettis for a fight because the two lightweights are currently near the top of the rankings and both coming off of wins.
In his return to the UFC in April, Thomson became the first fighter to finish Nate Diaz in the Octagon, as he won by knockout in the second round of their fight at UFC on Fox 7. Meanwhile, Pettis has won his last three fights in a row and holds the last win over current UFC champion Benson Henderson.
So last week while the festivities for UFC 162 were ongoing, he mentioned the possibility of facing Pettis later this year to matchmaker Joe Silva, and then by chance he happened to run into the former WEC champion.
"I brought it up to Joe Silva, and what's funny is I ran into Pettis at the Mandalay Bay pool, and he walked right up to me and was like, 'Hey, what's up dude; are we fighting or what?' and I said, 'Hey, all I need you to do is sign on the line,'" Thomson revealed to Bleacher Report on Tuesday. "He's like, 'It sounds like a deal.' I'd really like to try to get a fight with him late September, early October, maybe on Cain Velasquez's card in Houston."
The Houston card will be UFC 166 headlined by Thomson's longtime teammate and current UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez as he closes out his trilogy of fights against Junior dos Santos.
While the fight between Thomson and Pettis is still hypothetical for right now, the former Strikeforce champion believes it makes perfect sense for them to square off and the winner to receive the next shot at UFC gold.
"It just seems like the logical fight," Thomson said. "I'm not the one that makes this call. It's just funny; when I was with Strikeforce, all I heard people say was 'I would love to see you fight Pettis.' That was the biggest fight everybody wanted to see. Now, I'm in this situation that I'm in where I'm coming off a big win over Nate Diaz. Pettis was slated to be the No. 1 contender against Aldo, and now he's basically at 55 again. I feel like I'm the No. 1 contender, he feels like he's the No. 1 contender, and I feel like we're both right there."
The other key factor for Thomson is that he doesn't want to sit around and wait for another opportunity when this one is sitting right in front of his face. The UFC lightweight title will next be defended on August 31 at UFC 164, and Thomson knows that if he can fight Pettis by October, then the timing will be perfect for the winner to get the next shot at the champion.
"I definitely don't want to sit on the sideline and wait for a title shot. That's not even an option for me," Thomson commented. "I feel like I need to get that one big win, and he's that one big win I need. He needs that one big win to kind of showcase that he hasn't been gone for that year and people forgot who he was, and it's a great fight."
Pettis has been in the middle of bad circumstances since the first day he arrived in the UFC back in 2011. Following his win over Henderson to close the doors on the WEC, he was supposed to face the winner of then-champion Frankie Edgar and top contender Gray Maynard.
Unfortunately, they fought to a draw and had to rematch in October of that year, which meant Pettis would have sat out for all of 2011 if he waited. So instead, he took a fight against Clay Guida, and it didn't go his way.
So Pettis battled back and after a win over Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone in January, he appeared on the precipice of a title shot again, but Henderson was already matched up for an April showdown against former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez.
Now months later, Pettis still sits without a title shot, and waiting has just never been his game. Thomson hopes that bodes well for his chance to get the fight with Pettis, and then the two can clash later this year with a title fight looming overhead for the winner.
For Thomson, this isn't some made up personal issue he has with Pettis—it's just about the fastest track to a title shot, and he knows this is the way to get it.
"There is no personal beef whatsoever. Like I said, if he doesn't sign on the line, there might be a little personal beef. You can't poke me at the pool and say 'are we fighting or what?' and then turn around and not fight me. I understand at the end of the day it's not our call," Thomson said. "I think if both guys are willing to get after it and neither one of us wants to sit on the sidelines, late September, early October makes sense. (Benson) Henderson and T.J. Grant fight at the end of August, and that puts us about a month, month-and-a-half from our fight, and that gives us time to get ready and possibly fight at the beginning of the following year."
The two lightweights even exchanged a little banter on Twitter on Tuesday with Pettis offering up the same October date in Houston for their possible fight.
Now it all lies in the hands of UFC matchmaker Joe Silva whether or not he'll pull the trigger and make Thomson vs. Pettis a reality.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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