SAN JOSE, Calif. – Welcome back to the octagon, Josh Thomson.
Nine years after he left the UFC, former Strikeforce champion Thomson made a triumphant return with a second-round TKO of Nate Diaz.
The lightweight bout was part of the main card of today’s UFC on FOX 7 event at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. It aired on FOX following prelims on FX and Facebook.
The taunting started early from experienced trash talker Diaz, who took a few leg kicks as he advanced on Thomson. But rather than get baited into a slugfest, Thomson spent the early part of the first frame on his bicycle.
Twice, though, he broke a stalemate with high kicks that slapped Diaz upside the head.
After frustrating Diaz with movement, Thomson began to stand his ground, stopping Diaz in his tracks with stiff combinations. To add to Diaz’s woes, Thomson put him on the mat and landed shots from overhead.
Diaz immediately chased Thomson down at the start of the second frame and brought a halt to the action with a knee to the groin. Diaz continued to taunt his opponent, but Thomson tied him up and landed elbows in close. Blood began to flow from Diaz’s face.
Diaz nabbed a takedown and briefly threatened with a submission, but Thomson escaped danger.
Then, Thomson returned to what brought him success early in the fight. Again ducking low and kicking high, his shin caught Diaz on the temple and send him reeling to the cage. A follow-up right hand further removed Diaz from consciousness, and just as referee Mike Beltran stepped in to stop the bout at the 3:44 mark of the second, his corner threw in the towel.
An ecstatic Thomson ran the cage and screamed to cageside observers.
“I played it over and over in my head and honestly, I had myself losing a couple times, too,” Thomson said. “I couldn’t have scripted it any better. I doubted myself a little bit. I was more nervous for this fight than I was for Gilbert (Melendez). I thought he posed a lot of problems for me from his ground to his reach. My whole game plan was to pick him apart and take what he gives me. I did something the champ didn’t – I finished him. I think I deserve a shot at the title but it’s hard for me to say. I was fighting in the UFC before it was cool. I started my career here and I’m so happy that I get to finish it here.”
Thomson (20-5 MMA, 3-1 UFC), who was a slight underdog leading into the fight, gets back in the winner’s circle following a loss to former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez in a rubber match. Diaz (16-9 MMA, 11-7 UFC) now has lost back-to-back fights following a decision loss to champ Benson Henderson at UFC on FOX 5.
Up-to-the-minute UFC on FOX 7 results include:
- Josh Thomson def. Nate Diaz via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 3:44
- Matt Brown def. Jordan Mein via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 1:00
- Chad Mendes def. Darren Elkins via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:08
- Francis Carmont vs. Lorenz Larkin via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Myles Jury def. Ramsey Nijem via KO (punch) – Round 1, 1:02
- Joseph Benavidez def. Darren Uyenoyama via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:50
- Jorge Masvidal def. Tim Means via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- T.J. Dillashaw def. Hugo Viana via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:22
- Anthony Njokuani def. Roger Bowling via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 2:52
- Yoel Romero def. Clifford Starks via KO (flying knee, punches) – Round 1, 1:32
For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 7, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.
John Morgan and Ben Fowlkes contributed to this report on-site in San Jose.