“The option of not taking the fight lasted, like, two seconds,” Thomson said during a UFC Fight Club Q&A session prior to Friday’s UFC on FOX 9 weigh-ins.
For Thomson (20-5 MMA, 3-1 UFC), the fight, in this case, is a UFC on FOX 10 headliner opposite the man whom Pettis recently beat to claim the belt – ex-champ Benson Henderson (19-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC). The event takes place Jan. 25 at Chicago’s United Center and airs live on FOX, FOX Sports 1 and MMAjunkie.
Thomson, who returned to the UFC in April after a nine-year hiatus, chose to stay busy rather than wait after Pettis withdrew from their bout, which originally was scheduled to headline tonight’s UFC on FOX 9 event.
“I said, ‘Well, how long is [Pettis] out? [A UFC official] said, ’10 months,’ and I said, ‘No. OK, we’ve got to fight him,’” he said. “It’s already been since April since I fought Nate (Diaz), and you want to make sure fans always keep you fresh on their minds.”
Thomson, who knocked Diaz out in highlight-reel fashion at UFC on FOX 7, is aware that such a decision could cost him the opportunity he’s been chasing since he started fighting 12 years ago. He was given the title shot when Canadian T.J. Grant withdrew from UFC on FOX 9 due to lingering effects from a concussion suffered in training. A loss to Henderson certainly would extend his road to the sport’s most prestigious belt.
But Thomson feels he would be in the sport for the wrong reasons if he put accolades above his passion.
“I know I waited my whole career to fight for that belt, but I don’t want to waste 10 months,” he said. “That would be almost a year and a half of wasting and sitting on the sidelines and not fighting. I got into this sport to fight.
“And yeah, I could be pissing away my dreams, but I still love fighting. I love doing this. If I waited for 10 months, I probably wouldn’t be at the gym; I’d probably be laying back and sitting around. This is something I definitely enjoy doing.”
Pettis hopes to return to the cage in July and has signaled his desire to face Diaz as his next opponent. And while Thomson obviously would rather his next fight be against the champ, he joked that Diaz, who’s griped about his loss in interviews, might not be a bad idea.
“Maybe Nate again,” he said. “I could use a payday.”