Josh Thomson has been one of the top lightweight fighters on the planet for the past decade. The 35-year-old American Kickboxing Academy staple has retained his status among the elite at 155 pounds by proving to be one of the most versatile fighters in a weight class that is filled with world-class talent.
"The Punk's" blend of grappling, endless cardio and striking talents have kept him at the top of the heap in the lightweight division, and on Dec. 14 at UFC on Fox 9, he will finally get his long-awaited opportunity to prove he's the best of the best.
The former Strikeforce lightweight champion will square off with newly minted UFC champion Anthony Pettis in what is figured to be one of the most action-packed clashes of the year. "Showtime" is heralded as one of the premier strikers in MMA, and Thomson has a well-deserved reputation for being as game as they come in the standup department.
In addition to the stylistic matchup, the bout will present an opportunity Thomson has been eyeing for years. Despite being one of the top lightweights in the UFC during his initial run back in 2003, the Californian never had the chance to compete for UFC gold.
When the organization eliminated the 155-pound weight class in 2005, Thomson moved onto numerous top-level promotions and scrapped it out with the best the world had to offer outside of the UFC banner. Nevertheless, he made a triumphant return to the biggest stage in MMA last April at UFC on Fox 7 and did so in impressive fashion, as he knocked out former title challenger Nate Diaz in the second round of their tilt in San Jose.
The victory put him within striking distance of a title shot, but the road ahead still was unclear. That is until proposed No. 1 contender T.J. Grant's time away from the cage was extended due to a slow recovery on a head injury he had suffered in training.
With Grant out, an opportunity a decade in the making presented itself, and Thomson was given a chance to face Pettis for championship gold. He believes he has what it takes to unseat the Milwaukee native from the throne and promises their scrap in Sacramento will be a "can't miss" fight for the fans.
The No. 1 contender to the lightweight crown stopped by Bleacher Report's studio to talk about his return to the UFC and his upcoming collision with Pettis.