Pivotal lightweight ranking will be on the line when Josh Thomson meets Bobby Green at UFC on FOX 12 this weekend (Sat., July 26, 2014) from San Jose, California. Will the well-traveled "Punk" inch closer to a title shot, or will the rising "King" prove he's ready to assume the throne? Read our fight preview to find out!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Josh Thomson and Bobby Green will battle on the main card of UFC on FOX 12 this Saturday night (July 26, 2014), airing live at 8 p.m. ET from SAP Center in San Jose, California.

No. 3-ranked Thomson was last seen losing a razor thin split decision to former champion Benson Henderson at January’s UFC on FOX 10, a fight during which "Punk" broke his right hand early on.

Prior to that, he stormed back into the Octagon with a thunderous headkick finish of Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 7 in April 2013.

The former Strikeforce champion has seen it all in mixed martial arts (MMA), but he’s in for a tough challenge in the hungry and motivated Green, the No. 13-ranked Green challenger who stepped in as a late replacement for injured Michael Johnson.

"King" has been out of action since a UFC on FOX 9 decision win over gritty grinder Pat Healy, running his Octagon record to 3-0 after previous finishes of James Krause and Jacob Volkmann.

These two Strikeforce alumni will show up ready to throw down in San Jose. Given the fact they are both from California, it should be quite the battle. Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for Thomson vs. Green:

Josh Thomson

Record: 20-6 (1) overall, 3-2 UFC

Key Wins: Nate Diaz (UFC on FOX 7), Gilbert Melendez (Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Thomson), Pat Healy (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum), Gesias Cavalcante (Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Noons II)

Key Losses: Benson Henderson (UFC on FOX 10), Gilbert Melendez (Strikeforce: Evolution, Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier)

Keys to Victory: American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product Thomson is a well-rounded fighter who’s faced some of the best lightweights the sport has ever seen. He has an NCAA wrestling base and refines his striking with the full stable of elite athletes training out of his Northern California gym.

"Punk" also possesses a black belt in Guerilla jiu-jitsu that he’s used to gain nine submission wins throughout his 13-year career. Grappling should be where "Punk" potentially holds an edge. He had Henderson’s back many times at UFC on FOX 10 despite a broken hand, and "Smooth" has a much higher set of grappling accomplishments than Green.

Still, MMA math rarely works out, so Thomson has to be on guard at all times.

At 35 years old, he’s not exactly the young "Punk" that his nickname suggests any longer, and Green will be more than ready to make him a stepping-stone. Thomson needs to use his experience to lull Green into a false sense of security, using his speed and wrestling to mix up his attacks with seamless precision.

He’ll have the full support of his roaring hometown crowd behind him, and at this stage in his career, that will be nothing but a huge boost for him.

If "Punk" can go to work with some takedowns and wear down Green with his frenetic striking pace, a title shot will be looming tantalizingly close.

Bobby Green

Record: 22-5 overall, 3-0 UFC

Key Wins: Pat Healy (UFC on FOX 9), James Krause (UFC Fight Night 31: "Fight for Troops 3"), Jacob Volkmann (UFC 156), Daron Cruickshank (KOTC: Imminent Danger)

Key Losses: Gesias Cavalcante (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson), Tim Means (KOTC: Inferno), Dan Lauzon (Affliction: Day of Reckoning)

Keys to Victory: Like Thomson, former King of the Cage (KOTC) lightweight champion Green is a well-rounded combatant.

With eight knockouts and nine submissions in 22 total wins, he’s also a highly dangerous one. "King" has finished two out of his three UFC bouts, and he could make an absolutely huge statement by making Thomson the fourth.

To do so, however, Green will have to undoubtedly put forth the best performance of his life. Thomson has only been finished once, and that was back in 2004. Green has to be prepared to win a hard-fought decision, something that he’s not necessarily accustomed to doing against top competition.

Conditioning will play a big factor in his success, because "Punk" will show up in peak physical condition. Green should look use a high torrent of jabs to disrupt Thomson’s forward progress while softening him up with some kicks to the body.

Green’s striking has been lethal as of late, and the iron-chinned Thomson will be the ultimate test. "King" has done well on the ground, but Thomson is simply on another level. He trains with noted Sambo specialist Khabib Nurmagomedov on a daily basis, and Green only has a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Naturally Green has to be extremely careful on the ground. If Thomson takes his back like he did Henderson’s, it could be a very short night. Submissions aren’t necessarily his kryptonite, but they could spell his doom in San Jose.

Keeping this fight upright with excellent takedown defense and accurate striking will be Green’s best avenues to an upset.

Bottom Line from San Jose: The bottom line for this fight is that, like its Clay Guida vs. Dennis Bermudez featherweight precursor, it presents a match-up between the experienced old guard and talented young prospect.

Thomson is highly ranked and on the verge of making one last UFC title push. He’s 2-2 in his last four bouts, but one small judging change in two split decisions could easily have him at 4-0 in that span.

"Punk" likes fighting in his hometown, and with a 7-3 record over some top names; he’s done quite well there. Thomson will be hard to take down in front of his home fans.

Green can burst onto the scene by finishing Thomson. To accomplish that goal, he’ll have to be prepared to win in what may be the most hostile environment he’s ever fought in.

Green is facing the most resilient opponent of his career, but that won’t sap "King’s" confidence. The evolving competitor has the talent and skills to become a force in the stacked UFC lightweight division, yet the odds are stacked against him here.

If he can use his varied striking to land a bevy of combinations and avoid "Punk’s" takedowns, the "King" might just take the San Jose throne.

This bout may rest on the aging Thomson’s motivation, however. He teased retirement after his loss to Henderson, and while that may have been his emotions talking, we’re going to find out if his head is still in the fight game.

That makes Thomson vs. Green a very intriguing fight. Enjoy it.

Josh Thomson is set to square off with Bobby Green in a pivotal lightweight showdown. Will we witness a changing of the guard in San Jose?

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