Thomson will get the first crack at newly minted UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis in the UFC on Fox 9 main event on Dec. 14 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif.
The UFC had been trying to line up Pettis up against TJ Grant, since Pettis took Grant’s spot at UFC 164 to win the belt from Benson Henderson. Grant, however, said on Monday that he wouldn’t be quite ready by Dec. 14.
“Hey people. Quick update. Unfortunately I won’t be fighting Pettis on dec 14. I am still not yet 100% n can’t commit to fight,” Grant tweeted. “UFC is going with someone else instead. It sucks but it is the best for both myself and the UFC.
“Please don’t worry. Ill be back and if I gotta fight Someone else to get back to where I wanna be then that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m not bitter. Thanks”
The UFC later utilized its Fox partnership to announce on Monday night’s Fox Sports Live that Josh Thomson would be Pettis’ first challenger and headline the UFC on Fox 9 card.
Thomson (20-5, 1 no contest) is a former Strikeforce champion. He made the jump to the Octagon along with the rest of the Strikeforce fighters when the UFC assimilated the now-defunct promotion’s roster earlier this year.
He was 2-1 in his initial run in the UFC during 2003 and 2004, but his time was cut short when the UFC discontinued the lightweight division for a time.
Thomson scored a TKO stoppage of Nate Diaz in his Octagon return at UFC on Fox 7 in April.
Pettis (17-2) is fresh off of his first-round submission of Benson Henderson at UFC 164 on Aug. 31. It was his fourth consecutive victory after losing to Clay Guida in his UFC debut.