Anthony “Showtime” Pettis will defend his UFC title for the first time on Dec. 14. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Anthony Pettis will defend his Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight title against former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson in the UFC on Fox 9 main event.
UFC officials announced the news, revealing that T.J. Grant will not collide with Pettis as initially rumored at the Dec. 14 event from the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif. Grant also confirmed the news via Twitter on Sept. 16. Grant was first booked to challenge then-champion Benson Henderson in August at UFC 164 but pulled out of the fight after suffering a concussion in training. Instead, Henderson defended his belt against former World Extreme Cagefighting rival Pettis, with “Showtime” forcing the champ to submit with a first-round armbar.
Pettis, 26, now enters his first title defense riding a four-fight winning streak. The Duke Roufus protégé joined the UFC in 2011 after outpointing Henderson to win the WEC belt at the promotion’s final show. Following a debut loss to Clay Guida, Pettis rattled off victories over Jeremy Stephens, Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone before besting “Smooth” for a second time to capture the UFC strap.
Thomson became the first man to stop the durable Nate Diaz with strikes when he scored a technical knockout victory over the Cesar Gracie Fight Team rep at UFC on Fox 7 in April. Long regarded as one of Strikeforce’s top lightweight talents, Thomson captured that promotion’s title from Gilbert Melendez in 2008 but returned the belt to “El Nino” in their rematch the following year. “The Punk” then received one more crack at Melendez and the title in May 2012 but came up short in a hard-fought split decision.
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