Ask and ye shall receive. That at least worked for former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
Pettis asked for a fight with Thompson after losing to lightweight contender Tony Ferguson at UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor in October of last year. Thompson agreed and so did UFC officials. MMAWeekly.com’s Damon Martin confirmed the news with sources close to the bout on Tuesday, following an initial report by ESPN.
Pettis (21-8) has bounced around several times over the past few years. He quickly ascended to the championship after moving from the WEC to the UFC in 2011, but shifted down to featherweight after he lost the title and three consecutive bouts at 155 pounds.
Though he quickly earned a featherweight title shot, Pettis missed weight for the bout with Max Holloway and lost the fight before returning to 155 pounds. He has since gone 2-2.
With several other fighters moving to weight classes that are more naturally suited to their bodies, Pettis is now giving that approach a try and immediately taking aim for the top of the heap.
Having been entrenched near the top of the UFC welterweight rankings for the past few years, but having twice failed to take the belt from Tyron Woodley, Thompson (14-3-1) should serve as a premium proving ground for Pettis to determine if his welterweight chops are up to the task.
Thompson has gone 1-2-1 in his past four fights, but the losses were to Woodley and fast-rising star Darren Till, and the draw was also with Woodley. That rough patch followed a seven-fight winning streak that rocketed him to the peak of the division.
The bout is expected to take place at UFC on ESPN+ 6, which doesn’t yet have a main event. Thompson vs. Pettis would be a solid choice to headline, especially since it is expected to take place on March 23 in Nashville, Tenn., and Thompson is from nearby South Carolina.