(This story appears in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)

CHICAGO – Josh Thomson wasn’t supposed to be in shivering Chicago this week, but now he has a good reason to be.

Thomson (20-5 MMA, 3-1 UFC) was supposed to fight Anthony Pettis for the UFC’s lightweight championship in December before a knee injury put Pettis on the shelf. Now Thomson fights ex-champion Benson Henderson (19-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC) in the main event of UFC on FOX 10 on Saturday (FOX, 8 p.m. ET).

Coming into the week, Thomson knew the stakes could be high. But he wasn’t sure if an upset victory – Henderson is roughly a 3-to-1 favorite – would put him right back into the ondeck circle, waiting for Pettis to heal.

“Your next fight is always the hardest fight. It’s always the most important. It’s always the one that gets you closer to the title,” Thomson told USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie.

“It’s just a fight. I didn’t need this fight to get a title shot — I already had it. But what are you going to do? You need to fight.” But now a Thomson win literally will be the one that gets him closer to the title.

UFC President Dana White confirmed Thursday that if Thomson wins he will be locked in as the No. 1 contender when Pettis is ready to return.

And if Henderson wins? He might need to fight more while recent title challenger Gilbert Melendez moves up in line.

“Here’s the reality: If Thomson wins, he’s the next in line,” White said. “Obviously Ben Henderson just lost very decisively in his last fight with (Pettis). Should Benson Henderson win, we’ll see what’s up with (Melendez).

In April, Thomson became the first fighter to knock out Nate Diaz. After taking him out, and while waiting for a call for his next fight, the former Strikeforce champion got an unexpected call. He was asked to fight Pettis for the lightweight belt.

But the disappointment of having that title shot put on hold only lasted long enough for him to realize he’d rather stay active and prove he deserved to be the No. 1 contender.

“I’m over it. I’ve got, obviously, I think, bigger fish to fry,” Thomson said. “Benson poses more of a threat. He’s more well-rounded. There’s more to him that I have to worry about. With Pettis, I don’t have much to worry about.”

But the only way Thomson will find out for sure if he has to worry about Pettis is to get through Henderson, whom he thinks has the type of well-rounded style that compares to his own.

“He fights like me,” Thomson said. “This sport was created for this purpose right here. It’s not a one-dimensional fight.”

For the latest on UFC on FOX 10, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

view original article >>

Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Chicago's UFC on FOX 20 lineup gets first 4 bouts, including LaFlare vs. Yakovlev

  • 27 days ago
  • 5 views

The fight card is starting to take shape for the UFC’s July return to network television.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Tony Ferguson Injured; Rashad Evans vs. Glover Teixeira Now Headlines UFC on FOX 19 Main Event

  • 27 days ago
  • 23 views

Tony Ferguson is out of his scheduled UFC on FOX 19 headlining bout opposite Khabib Nurmagomedov. read news >>

John Teixeira injured, out of Bellator 153 co-main event with Patricio Freire

  • 24 days ago
  • 3 views

Bellator will have to find a new co-main event for Bellator 153 as an injury has forced John Teixeira out of his featherweight bout with Patricio Freire.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>

Oluwale Bamgbose in for Caio Magalhaes against Cezar Ferreira at UFC on FOX 19

  • 23 days ago
  • 3 views

Caio Magalhaes is injured and out of his UFC on FOX 19 bout with Cezar Ferreira. Heavy hitting Oluwale Bamgbose will step in to face Ferreira on the prelims of the card.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Grimacing Lucas Martins was worried about being cut at UFC Fight Night 86

  • 21 days ago
  • 6 views

ZAGREB, Croatia – An obviously injured Lucas Martins admitted to playing it safe against Robert Whiteford at UFC Fight Night 86. Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos read news >>

As Conor McGregor Chases Revenge, How Long Will Aldo, Edgar Keep 'Interim' Tag?

  • 19 days ago
  • 16 views

Conventional wisdom says we’re supposed to feel bad for Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar. Neither guy got exactly what he wanted here. The UFC’s biggest quarry slipped through their fingers last month whe read news >>

With eyes on the top of the featherweight division, Hacran Dias knows it's now or never

  • 17 days ago
  • 2 views

Hacran Dias wasn’t supposed to fight on the main card of this weekend’s UFC on FOX 19 event. But now that he will, Dias knows it’s time to impress.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Anthony Pettis, Once Heir to UFC Greatness, Now Fights Just to Stay in the Mix

  • 13 days ago
  • 21 views

Considering how things have gone lately, it’s easy to forget how good Anthony Pettis used to be. There was a time not so long ago when Pettis was largely regarded as the future of the lightweight div read news >>

UFC 197's battle of desperation (Yahoo Sports)

  • 12 days ago
  • 10 views

From Yahoo Sports: Anthony Pettis desperately needs a victory over Edson Barboza; Edson Barboza desperately needs a victory over Anthony Pettis. Something's gotta give. read news >>

UFC 197's battle of desperation (Yahoo Sports)

  • 12 days ago
  • 2 views

From Yahoo Sports: Anthony Pettis desperately needs a victory over Edson Barboza; Edson Barboza desperately needs a victory over Anthony Pettis. Something's gotta give. read news >>