Following several years of inconsistent scheduling and sporadic results, Josh Thomson finally made his return to the Octagon by squaring off with Nate Diaz at UFC on Fox 7 in April 2013.
Thomson spent much of the past eight or nine years fighting for Strikeforce, but found it difficult to fight consistently due to scheduling and injuries. He managed an eight-fight winning streak at one point, but went 3-3 in his six most recent fights prior to his UFC return, leading many to believe his best days were behind him.
Such assessments were likely shadowed by the dimmer lights he had been fighting under.
Many wrote Thomson off before he ever set foot back in the Octagon, but the one-time UFC title contender wasted no time putting a stamp on his return, embracing the return of the white-hot spotlight. He did something no other fighter has ever done: he knocked Nate Diaz out.
Once he did that, other fighters came out of the woodwork wanting to fight him.
Donald Cerrone, who was instead booked to fight Rafael dos Anjos, was one such fighter; Diego Sanchez was another.
Thomson will fight anyone they put in front of him… with one caveat. Whoever they put in front of him has to lead Thomson to his end game: UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.
“Do you think the lion turned around every time a little dog barked? No,” Thomson responded when asked about all the fighters calling him out.
“I’m focused on one guy. I’m focused on Benson, that’s it. I don’t really care about anybody else.
“I told the UFC before I came over (from Strikeforce), whoever you guys want me to fight so I can line up to fight Benson, that’s who I want to fight.”
There’s nothing personal between Thomson and Henderson. Like most other fighters, Thomson just wants to fight for the title and believes a match-up with Henderson would be spectacular.
“I think you could potentially see something like the Gil (Melendez) and Thomson thing again,” Thomson said about fighting Henderson, referring to the trilogy of bouts he had with his fellow former Strikeforce champion. “Stylistically, I think we match up well.
“I like the way he fights, but I think I can beat him.”
That’s not to say that Thomson is at all sure about how he’d go about beating Henderson, as he thinks they are both complete mixed martial artists with few holes in their respective games.
“There’s nothing I can take away from him,” said Thomson. “He’s that step that I am. We’re well rounded at everything, we’re not great at anything, we’re just good at all of them, and it makes for great fights.”
Benson Henderson is currently slated to face TJ Grant in the UFC 164 main event on Aug. 31 in Milwaukee. Thomson, meanwhile, awaits his next assignment.