Anthony “Showtime” Pettis definitely lived up to his nickname on Saturday night.
In his first fight in the welterweight division, Pettis demolished two-time title contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson with a spectacular Superman punch knockout to cap off the latest UFC Fight Night card from Nashville.
This was the third weight class for Pettis over the past few years as he has bounced from featherweight all the way to welterweight for his latest headline fight.
It definitely appears this latest move was the best yet as Pettis picked up a statement win over a top five ranked fighter in Thompson.
When the action got started in the opening round, Thompson did a good job counter striking Pettis, who was aggressive right out of the gate, stalking his opponent around the Octagon.
While both fighters landed a blistering series of kicks to the body and legs, the difference early was a well timed jab from Thompson that kept splitting Pettis’ defense and popping him directly in the mush.
By the end of the first round, Pettis saw blood dribbling down his face and his mouth was open trying to get in as much oxygen as possible.
Between rounds, Pettis’ corner told him to begin countering Thompson’s kicks with some of his own and that strategy seemed to back off the 36-year old contender as his lead leg started showing signs of wear and tear with each passing minute.
Still, Thompson was maintaining the distance and cracking Pettis with punching combinations that continued to slice through the defense of the former UFC lightweight champion.
Just when it appeared that Thompson was about to cruise to a 20-18 scorecard through the first two rounds, Pettis decided to unleash one last strike that would change everything.
With his back foot against the cage, Pettis sprung forward with a leaping Superman punch that landed flush on Thompson’s jaw and sent him crashing to the canvas in a heap. Pettis followed up with a couple more punches as referee Herb Dean rushed into stop the contest before any more damage could be done.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 24, 2019
The official end came at 4:55 into the second round.
“No. 4 in the world, I don’t want to fight no one behind me, especially at lightweight, that’s why I was like let’s move up,” Pettis said after earning the jaw-dropping knockout against Thompson. “The results show. The weight cut was killing me at 145, 155, now 170, I better be in the top 10. I’m feeling good.”
It was a huge victory for Pettis, who has turned into a bonus machine over his past few fights but none ended in more dramatic fashion than his latest victory over Thompson on Saturday night.
The win also gives Pettis plenty of options now that he just knocked out a former two-time title challenger in the welterweight division.
“I want to put on a show for everybody, that’s all I want to do,” Pettis said. “At 170, I felt so good coming from the weight cut. I’ll be here for a while but I’m not doing at 155, too.
“There’s a couple names at 170 — I want [Rafael dos Anjos] back, that’s one of the fights I need. 155, if Dana [White] wants to give it to me, the winner of [Edson] Barboza-[Justin] Gaethje, I’m ready.”
No matter what comes next, Pettis has definitely set himself up for a big fight at either welterweight or lightweight because there are several matchups that would definitely result in fireworks.
As for Thompson, this is obviously a devastating setback following a razor close loss to Darren Till last year and then being out of action for the past year. Now coming off this knockout, Thompson will have to do some work get back into the title picture at 170 pounds.