Anthony Pettis said he was going to shock the world with his striking against Stephen Thompson, and that’s exactly what he did in last Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 148 main event.
‘Showtime’ was getting outpointed for the majority of the contest until, seemingly out of nowhere, landing a highlight reel superman punch with just five seconds to go in the second round.
Pettis, the former WEC and UFC lightweight champion, knocked Thompson out cold, earning his first knockout victory in over six years and becoming the only man to stop ‘Wonderboy’ with strikes.
Pettis’ KO caught the attention of UFC president Dana White, who credited the 32-year-old for doing what Tyron Woodley was unable to do in his two lackluster title fights against Thompson at UFC 205 and UFC 209.
“Pettis was a +385 underdog, huge underdog,” White said on Saturday’s ESPN+ post-fight show, per MMA Fighting. “I loved his gameplan from the beginning. I’m assuming — I don’t know this — (coach) Duke Roufus studied ‘Wonderboy’ and the way that he jumps with his karate movement, it’s hard to block leg kicks, so he started busting up the legs early, both legs, on the outside, on the inside, to try to slow him down so he could punch with him.
“Think about this,” White continued, “Anthony Pettis, who was 155 and moved up to 170, was able to do what (Tyron) Woodley couldn’t do twice. I mean, that’s pretty impressive. And I’m not ragging on Tyron, which is going to be the thing that comes out of this, but what Pettis did tonight is unbelievable against a bigger [opponent]. Look at the size difference with these two tonight.”
As for what’s next for Pettis? White is open to a match-up with just about anyone.
“Listen, I like any matchup for him after what he did tonight,” White said. “Very impressive. A very impressive gameplan. He came in, he executed. ‘Wonderboy’ was busting him up in the first round, the second round. He kept his composure, stuck to [what] I’m assuming was the gameplan — I don’t know that — but he looked damn good tonight.”
Expect Pettis to surge into the top-five once the UFC updates its welterweight rankings