Just two weeks after winning the UFC lightweight title, new champion Anthony Pettis starting looking at the calendar, eying the upcoming UFC On FOX 9 event in Sacramento on December 14 as the stage for his first title defense. He even had an opponent in mind, telling UFC Tonight’s Ariel Helwani last week that he wanted to share the cage with top contender TJ Grant, the man whose injury opened the door for Pettis to step in opposite Benson Henderson in his hometown of Milwaukee last month.
With Grant still not cleared to return to the cage as a result of the concussion that sidelined him from his date with Henderson at UFC 164, Pettis (18-2) will now defend the title he won last month against former Strikeforce champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson (20-5, 1 NC).
Thomson earned Knockout Of The Night honors for his second-round stoppage win over Nate Diaz in his UFC return at the UFC On FOX event in his hometown of San Jose back in April. Prior to returning to the Octagon, the American Kickboxing Academy product engaged in a trilogy of back-and-forth fights with longtime Strikeforce titleholder Gilbert Melendez.
The new title pairing was announced shortly after Grant took to Twitter to inform fans that he was not yet ready to return to action. As the Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native explained to FoxSports.com last week, he’s just now beginning to do light conditioning, and envisions being ready to compete again in 4-6 months.
UFC On FOX 9 takes place at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California on Saturday, December 14. Last week, the UFC announced that bantamweight title contenders Urijah Faber and Michael McDonald would square off in the co-main event of the evening. No other bouts have been announced at this time.
Stay tuned to FoxSports.com for further updates on the UFC on FOX 9 fight card.