LAS VEGAS – The recent injury to UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis has created some shuffling in the immediate title picture, and in turn, the promotion’s return to Chicago in January has its main event.
Former lightweight champ Benson Henderson (19-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC) will meet Josh Thomson (20-5 MMA, 3-1 UFC) at UFC on FOX 10. Thomson had been scheduled to fight Pettis for the title at UFC on FOX 9 next month in Sacramento before Pettis’ injury took him out of that fight.
UFC on FOX 10 takes place Jan. 25 at United Center in Chicago, the third straight January the venue has hosted a FOX show. The main card airs on FOX following prelims that are expected to air on FOX Sports 1 and stream at MMAjunkie.
Henderson will be fighting for the first time since his August submission loss to Pettis in the main event of UFC 164 in Milwaukee, where he relinquished the 155-pound title. Prior to that, he had a seven-fight winning streak in the UFC after moving over following his WEC finale loss to Pettis for that promotion’s final title.
“Smooth” won three straight fights before getting a title shot against Frankie Edgar. At UFC 144, he took a unanimous decision in a “Fight of the Night” winner. The two rematched at UFC 150, and Henderson again won – that time by split decision. He then defended the belt with a unanimous decision win over Nate Diaz and a split call against former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez in April before the second loss to Pettis.
Thomson returned to the UFC in April after moving over from Strikeforce when that promotion was dissolved into the UFC, and his return was a successful one. He stopped with a second-round head kick for a “Knockout of the Night” win that ultimately would prove to be what he needed to get a title shot .
That shot came when previous top contender T.J. Grant continued to suffer the effects of a concussion that took him out of the fight with Henderson that Pettis got, instead. But now it appears Thomson will have to get past the former champ if he wants to stay in line for a shot with the new champ – who expects to be out another six to seven months.
In Thomson’s first stint with the UFC, he went 2-1. But then he moved to PRIDE and Strikeforce, going 10-3 in the latter promotion. He won the lightweight title there against Melendez in 2008, but lost it to him 18 months later, then lost to him again in May 2012 trying to recapture the title in a highly competitive trilogy.
The only other fight added to UFC on FOX 10 so far is a featherweight bout between Darren Elkins and Jeremy Stephens.