In the main event of the evening, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis jumps from lightweight to meet sensational welterweight striker Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Pettis enters this fight after being stopped by Tony Ferguson while Thompson was outpointed by Darren Till in a somewhat controversial close fight.
Once labeled a future superstar, Pettis captured the UFC lightweight title and defended it only once before being beaten from pillar to post by Rafael Dos Anjos over five rounds. Since then his career has been on the decline, losing five of the following eight. Pettis is a flashy striker that does not doubt to throw impressive techniques but at the same time has clear technical deficiencies in his striking and a lack of power in his hands. He is mostly a kicker. He is also a very good submission grappler both on top and bottom but his wrestling has always been underwhelming.
Stephen Thompson is also a striker, but with a much higher pedigree. A former kickboxing standout who captured numerous titles and went unbeaten, he is a delight to watch when he gets going. He has a dexterity no one in the UFC can match in terms of mixing distance control and timing to keep opponents at bay while throwing kicks and punches with his hands down. He almost never uses his grappling, only when opponents force him to work in the clinch. His Jiu Jitsu is basic. His only desire when he gets put on his back is to get back up.
How is this fight gonna play out? Most probably on the feet the entire time, unless somebody hurts the opponent and decides to follow up on the ground. There is no way Wonderboy is going to shoot on Pettis, and although Pettis may want to try it at some point I doubt he has the ability to put Stephen down. Much better, more athletic wrestlers have tried and failed. On the feet Thompson is the best striker between the two by far, and he will also have a size, height and reach advantage here.
How does Pettis win this fight? I think he will need to badly hurt Stephen somehow to do so an then finish him, he could also catch a sub from his back but Thompson is intelligent enought to not jump on Anthony´s guard even if he has him hurt. I think Pettis is in for a long night given all the facts. He also lacks the striking fundamentals to really trouble Stephen on the feet, while not having a decent jab and powerful hands. I think Thompson is going to outclass Pettis on the feet en route to a wide unanimous decision or a stoppage down the strecht. Pettis has a good chin but I feel Thompson will try to make a statement here and take out a smaller man that represents litte to no threat of the takedown. The pick here is Thompson to win by KO before making another run at the welterweight strap.