UFC Fight Night: Nashville

David Ibarra, Reporter

It was showtime in Nashville on Saturday. Anthony Pettis became only the third fighter to win bouts in the featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight division. His shocking knockout victory over Stephen Thompson came in the final five seconds of the second round.

The fight was an entertaining display from Thompson up until the knockout shot. The fight was heading in the direction most people thought. Thompson seemed to be too slick, too fast, and too powerful for Pettis through the first two rounds. The former welterweight title challenger left Pettis a bloody mess through the first round, catching him at the end of his kicks and punches while only dealing with leg kicks from Pettis. The leg kicks would prove themselves to be a worthy investment for Pettis. Thompson’s movement was beginning to become more labored as the second round progressed and it made the finishing sequence possible. With Pettis being back against the wall, he took a chance on a shot that no one saw coming. He was pressed against the fence and threw a superman punch right on the chin to floor Thompson, before indefinitely putting him out with two more shots. This was the first knockout in Thompson’s career.

The finish came as a surprise to many. Throughout Thompson’s career, he had been notorious for hitting people without getting hit. He had also had survived two barrages from former champion Tyron Woodley. His evasiveness along with his slick karate stance always allowed for him to just be right out of the way of his opponents punches. However, this particular strike from “Showtime” Pettis, who was losing decisively, came out of nowhere

and was a daring attempt that landed in the perfect spot. This is the first time Thompson has lost consecutive fights in his mixed martial arts career.

So whats next? Pettis has expressed interest in fighting in the welterweight division and lightweight division. After his fight, he called out welterweight challenger Rafael Dos Anjos, who beat Pettis back in 2015 to take his lightweight title. He has also expressed interest in moving up in the rankings in welterweight as he just took out the number three ranked contender. Suffice it to say there are plenty of options available for Showtime.

For Thompson, not so much. After expressing interest in fighting in June on his home turf in South Carolina, its appearing to be less likely that will take place. The UFC is scheduled to be in Greenville, South Carolina on June 22, Thompson’s hometown. After the fight, Thompson was taken to the hospital and has since been released and has been in good spirits. It seems unlikely that he will be able to compete in South Carolina, but if he does there seems to be some matchmaking availability for him and perhaps Ben Askren or Robbie Lawler to meet.

The rest of the main card provided some highlights and important takeaways. Heavyweight Curtis Blaydes took a dominant unanimous decision win over Justin Willis. Willis seemed to have to answer for the wrestling of Blaydes, who won all three rounds decisively. This propels Blaydes to fight higher in the rankings and gets him closer to a title shot

Maycee Barber, the rising prospect in the women’s flyweight division, won her seventh fight in a row, remaining undefeated. The prospect faced heavy adversity in the first round as JJ Aldrich appeared to have the power advantage and better boxing skills. Barber was dropped early in the first round and later recovered. It was in the second round where she turned things around and landed a flurry of a combination against the cage that was too much for Aldrich. The 20-year old undefeated prospect looks to continue her upwards trajectory towards higher competition, perhaps cracking the top 15 rankings.

Performance of the night went to Anthony Pettis and Randa Markos, a strawweight who competed in the prelims and won with a slick arm bar. Fight of the night went to prelims headliner Bryce Mitchell vs Bobby Moffett. All four fighters received an extra 50,000 dollars for their performances.

Whats next? The UFC continues its run when it stops in Philadelphia this Saturday  March 30th. Lightweight barbarians Justin Gaethje and Edson Barboza will headline the event.

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