December 14th was the night former Strikeforce lightweight champion, Josh Thomson was supposed to square off against current UFC lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis. It would mark his second fight in the organization since his return (his first stint in the UFC began more than 10 years ago). In the latest of several fight cancellations, Pettis injured his knee, and will be out of commission for 6 - 8 months. Instead, Thomson will be facing former champ, Ben Henderson early next year at UFC on Fox 10.
I recently spoke with Josh about his new opponent and how he feels about losing the title shot due to unfortunate circumstances. ‘The Punk' is no stranger to injuries himself, having had to cancel a few fights of his own, weighed in on how he's managed to keep the mighty injury bug at bay. Here's what he had to say:
In our gym, we kind of train the same, five days a week. The only thing I'd kind of change is I'll focus more on the things I want to do when I spar. When I'm sparring, I'm focusing on the things I need to do to win that fight. Not much really changes from the Pettis to the Henderson fight. For me personally, stylistically, Benson is more of a threat than Pettis was. Not to mention that this is the opportunity to fight someone that has been the champ for the last couple years. For me, I think Benson has the bigger name. Not to take anything away from Pettis, but Henderson has been more active over the last two years, so there was no way I could pass on this opportunity.
Benson is so well rounded. Honestly, it's like I'm looking at myself in a mirror, fight-wise, just with a left handed person. He offers everything from the grappling to the wrestling, the clinch work, the takedowns; it's gonna be a tough fight. At any moment, the pace of the fight can change and go anywhere.
With Pettis, you know he's going to pretty much try to keep it on the feet the whole time. He's not going to try and mix it up. Gil is sort of the same way. They're kind of set in their ways on how they train and the focus on the things that they do. That's worked for a lot of guys in their careers. Look at Randy Couture; he made a living off that, just punching in the clinch, pressing them up against the fence and taking them down.
I feel that with myself and with Benson, we really take the fight everywhere. Whenever an opportunity presents itself, we have the ability to seize it. I've told people before, I'm not the best in anything. I'm not the best stand-up guy, I'm not the best grappler, I'm not the best wrestler. The thing is, I have the ability to put a lot of things together and keep you guessing. Ben is the same way, and that makes both of us very dangerous.
The Big Let Down
My focus really was the title, and it sucks that it happened the way it did, especially given that it was a PCL injury. I've gone through that same injury myself, and I fought that third fight with Gilbert with a torn PCL, which is why I'm kind of confused as to why Pettis is not fighting. I feel that it's something you can work through, and there's not very much they can do for it.
I've talked to some of the best doctors and surgeons, and they've said trying to repair a PCL is kind of pointless. Rest and letting it heal is the best way to deal with it. I still fought with mine torn, and it happened the week before the fight.
The most upsetting thing for me is that the title opportunity has been taken away. It's just sad. I'm just hoping I get the win over Benson and that Anthony recovers soon so we can fight.
You know, it's different for every fighter, but you've really got to learn how to listen to your body. There's times where you're tired and worn out. Those are times to pay attention. For me, it was all about being way over-trained. I finally started listening to my body and learning when to back off. Everyone has been seeing the results from it. Even in that third fight with Gilbert, up until I got hurt, I felt like a million bucks. Everything was on track and I was feeling great. That's why I felt I could fight through the injury. I was timid in those first two rounds, but I finally settled in my groove and a lot of people felt I won that fight.
The Diaz Brothers
With those guys, both Nick and Nate, I've never had any problems with them. If other people have had problems with them, I really can't speak on it. They're the type that keep to themselves, but every time I've seen them and spoken to them, they've been very cool and friendly. I've never had any problems with them at all.
The stuff that happened after my fight with Nate wasn't anything to be concerned with. Obviously he was a little upset with the outcome, but that's to be expected with anyone. When he said some stuff about me, I was just like, ‘Whatever.' Emotions run high after a fight, and I don't something like that against him at all. I just look past all that and move forward. I know that they're nice guys, and I've never really had an issue with them.
You can follow Josh via his Twitter account, @TheRealPunk