The UFC will be making its long-awaited return to Tennessee Saturday when former lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis moves up a weight class to take on two-time title contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in a welterweight showdown.
Pettis, currently ranked No. 8 in the lightweight division, won the lightweight championship in August 2013 by submitting then-champion Benson Henderson with a first-round armbar. He held the title until March 2015, losing to Rafael dos Anjos by unanimous decision.
Pettis (21-8) was last seen in a losing effort to former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson by corner stoppage at the end of the second round due to Pettis hurting his hand and not being able to continue. The fight with Ferguson went on win ‘Fight of the Year’ by many MMA outlets and by the UFC.
Thompson, currently ranked No. 3 in the welterweight division, has fought for the UFC welterweight title twice, coming up short in both fights. He fought then-champion Tyron Woodley at UFC 205 in November 2016 - a fight of the year candidate. The fight went all five rounds and was declared a majority draw. The two would rematch a couple of months later at UFC 209, with Woodley winning by majority decision.
Since the title fights, Thompson (14-3-1) has traded wins and losses and is coming off a loss to Darren Till by unanimous decision last May.
In the co-main event, heavyweight contenders Curtis “Razor” Blaydes will be taking on rising prospect Justin “Big Pretty” Willis. Blaydes (10-2), currently ranked No. 4, has only lost to title challenger Francis “The Predator” Ngannou. Blaydes holds notable wins over Alexey Oleynik, Mark Hunt and Alistair Overeem. Blaydes is known for his wrestling and ability to punish his opponents with the ground-and-pound attack. He’ll be looking to get back on track this Saturday.
Willis (8-10), currently ranked No. 10, is coming off the biggest win of his career yet when he beat Hunt, a knockout artist, by unanimous decision in December. Willis lost his first professional MMA fight in 2012 by TKO and hasn’t lost since.
Willis first burst onto the UFC scene in July 2017 against James Mulheron, winning by unanimous decision. Willis has displayed his power in all of his fights by dropping his opponents during the fight or hurting them and making them retreat.
This weekend’s card is one you do not want to miss. Watch all the amazing fights this weekend on ESPN+!