The UFC octagon rolls on to Nashville, Tennessee this weekend for the organisation’s latest UFC Fight Night offering, and if you’re a fan of flashy striking, then boy do they have a main event for you.
Former UFC lightweight champion of the world Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis is stepping up to welterweight to take on two-time welterweight title challenger Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in the headline bout in Nashville, with both men looking to produce a statement performance and propel themselves into title contention at 170lbs.
Pettis is a striker with an eye for the spectacular. The Milwaukee native has produced some thrilling displays in the cage over the course of his UFC and WEC career, and after stepping up to welterweight, he’ll fight at a more comfortable weight where he hopes he’ll be able to deliver his best performance of his career.
As well as being a former world champion, Pettis is known for his spectacular striking style, and one technique in particular. His signature move, ‘The Showtime Kick’ spectacularly floored Benson Henderson in their WEC title fight back in December 2010, and he’s still throwing spectacular striking techniques now, nearly nine years on.
Thompson, meanwhile, is every bit as flashy as Pettis, with his karate-based kickboxing style putting away a host of victims in highlight-reel fashion. His skills took him all the way to back-to-back world title bouts with Tyron Woodley, but he couldn’t quite find that extra couple of per cent needed to get past ‘The Chosen One’ and capture the UFC welterweight title.
But the UFC welterweight title now has a new owner, opening the door once again for Thompson to campaign for a title shot. To get one, he’ll need to defeat former world champ Pettis, and defeat him in decisive fashion.
The size and power advantage should sit with Thompson, whose style should be perfect to catch Pettis as he looks to move in and connect with close-range strikes. Thompson is priced at 6/5 to win by KO, but can currently be had for a boosted ‘Power Price’ of 13/10.
My pick, however, is for ‘Wonderboy’ to control things all the way to a decision victory, which pays out a more attractive 13/8.
Fight night foursome
As well as taking Wonderboy in the main event, here’s a quick-fire quartet of picks that could make for a tidy fight night acca this weekend.
Curtis Blaydes (1/3) to defeat Justin Willis: Blayes is too big, too strong and his wrestling is too good for ‘Big Pretty’. Could be a ground-and-pound TKO finish, or a grinding three-round decision win for ‘Razor’.
Jussier Formiga (13/8) to defeat Deiveson Figueiredo: Best fight on the card. No.1 flyweight contender Formiga is the betting underdog against undefeated contender Figueiredo. The difference on paper is the level of opposition. Formiga’s fought at the top, Figueiredo hasn’t yet. Back the established man.
Maycee Barber (1/3) to defeat JJ Aldrich: Barber isn’t called ‘The Future’ for nothing. She’s a fast-rising star with huge potential. Aldrich is solid, but shouldn’t pose too many issues for the young star, who’s fighting at her new, more natural weight class of flyweight.
Marlon Vera (4/7) to defeat Frankie Saenz: Vera is turning from a scrappy undercard entertainer into a fighter who is showing signs of breaking into the top echelons in a talent-stacked bantamweight division. Saenz is a is a tough veteran, but Vera has more ways to win.
* All odds correct at time of posting.