With Josh Thomson firmly back in the fold, following his disappointing loss to Benson Henderson, and Michael Johnson gunning for a fight with one of the lightweight division's big names, it looks like the UFC has found all the makings of a quality scrap for UFC on Fox 12 taking place on July 26th in San Jose, California. Not long ago, Thomson stated that he would be looking to make his return to the UFC (ending talk of his potential retirement) and that the UFC's San Jose card was where he wanted to do it. His matchup against Johnson was announced by Fox Sports on Friday.
While the UFC rarely likes to match winners against losers, there are exceptions where such bookings make sense, even with their own internal logic. For Thomson, not only is he coming off a performance that many observers felt he won, but he's also in a position where staying active and winning fights really has to be his top priority. If he want's get another title shot in a too-deep division, the quickest route will be a strong win streak. Michael Johnson may not be quite as highly ranked as some potential opponents, but hes' a rising contender and the kind of name win that could have a lot of people talking about Josh Thomson getting a shot at the belt, despite his losses to Henderson and Melendez.
For Johnson, this fight is exactly the kind of opportunity I'm sure he's been looking for. A chance to take on one of the division's very best fighters and rocket his name into title contention. Coming off a rock solid, if not utterly dominant win over Melvin Guillard, Johnson has quietly asserted himself as one of the top-tier of fighters at 155 lbs. His boxing has become polished and nuanced, and when he's fighting with purpose and control, he has the feel of a fighter who can be a very real force.
But Thomson is a very different animal from anyone else he's faced so far. A technical, accurate kickboxer with a deep arsenal of strikes and a highly polished wrestling and grappling game mixed in. He's a three-dimensional threat in a way that Michael Johnson has not only not fought before, but thus far, has not shown himself to be. Johnson will need to show more than he has to this point in his career if he wants to beat Thomson and enter his name into the title hunt.
UFC on Fox 12 takes place on July 26th in San Jose, California. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Anthony Johnson has also been announced for the card, but no other bouts are known at this time and no headliner has been made official. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more fight announcements, news, and breakdowns.