Weekend Warrior: Thompson-Pettis Fronts UFC Fight Night

Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC / Contributor (Getty Images)

Stephen Thompson wants to put himself back on the radar in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s cutthroat welterweight division.

“Wonderboy” will return to the cage for the first time in nearly a year when he collides with Anthony Pettis in the UFC Fight Night 148 main event on Saturday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Meanwhile, Elevation Fight Team’s Curtis Blaydes meets the surging Justin Willis in the three-round heavyweight co-headliner.

Thompson, 36, last appeared at UFC Fight Night 130 in May, when he lost a contentious decision to Darren Till. The karate stylist and Simpsonville, South Carolina, native has compiled a 9-3-1 record since he joined the UFC roster in 2012. Wins over current UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, former UFC welterweight titleholder Johny Hendricks and reigning Bellator MMA welterweight boss Rory MacDonald anchor Thompson’s resume.

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Stephen Thompson

Stephen Thompson punches Darren Till. Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

A former UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting champion at 155 pounds, Pettis made the decision in January to go big-game hunting in the welterweight division. The 32-year-old Roufusport star has not competed since his second-round technical knockout defeat to Tony Ferguson at UFC 229 a little more than five months ago. Pettis has secured 17 of his 21 career victories by knockout, technical knockout, or submission.

UFC Fight Night “Thompson vs. Pettis” — which streams live to ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT — also features a lightweight clash pairing John Makdessi with Jesus Pinedo, a flyweight affair pitting Jussier da Silva against Deiveson Figueiredo, a featherweight battle matching Luis Pena with Steven Peterson and a women’s flyweight tilt slotting Maycee Barber opposite J.J. Aldrich. In addition, ESPN+ will stream the entire six-fight undercard at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT.

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Maycee Barber. Photo: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC (Getty Images)

The Ultimate Fighting Championship does not have the mixed martial arts stage all to itself. Bellator MMA on Friday returns to the Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, with Bellator 218. Roufusport’s Emmanuel Sanchez will face former World Series of Fighting champion Georgi Karakhanyan in the headliner — a rematch of their January 2017 encounter in which Sanchez emerged victorious by majority decision. Bellator 218 airs live on the Paramount Network at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.

Finally, the Legacy Fighting Alliance holds down the fort on the regional scene with LFA 62 on Friday at The Bomb Factory in Dallas. Casey Kenney will lock horns with Vincent Cachero for the interim bantamweight championship in the main event. LFA 62 airs live on AXS-TV at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

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