After making plenty of noise about wanting to face a top contender, UFC lightweight Michael Johnson has finally landed a top-five opponent. “The Menace”, who has reeled off three straight wins and has called out many of the division’s elite, will square off against Josh Thomson at UFC on FOX 12 in San Jose.
The no. – ranked Thomson decided to continue his fighting career after contemplating retirement following a tough loss to Benson Henderson. The split-decision defeat at UFC on FOX 10 against the former champion cost Thomson a title shot against Anthony Pettis. The 35-year old veteran will be making a return in his hometown on July 26.
The former Strikeforce champion has a career record of 20-6 with one no-contest, and includes a tremendous trilogy with top contender Gilbert Melendez. “The Punk” has 14 finishes by way of knockout or submission. He’s 1-1 in his second UFC stint, including an impressive knockout of Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 7. Thomson became the first man to ever stop Diaz via strikes and earned a Knockout of the Night bonus. He’ll be motivated to bounce back after the disappointing result against Henderson.
Johnson is fresh off a unanimous decision win over Melvin Guillard at Fight Night 37 in England. While it was another victory, Johnson wasn’t satisfied because of the lack of action during that contest. “The Young Assassin” fought a surprisingly timid fight and it sealed his fate with the organization.
The 27-year-old Johnson is hoping to continue his momentum and a matchup against Thomson certainly has the potential to produce plenty of excitement. “The Menace” has compiled a 7-4 record in 11 Octagon appearances and has made a serious push thanks to victories over Guillard, Gleison Tibau and Joe Lauzon. The no. 10-ranked Johnson has solid striking skills and is ready to test himself against the division’s best. Previous requests to face Khabib Nurmagomedov and Diaz had gone unanswered, but he now he gets a major challenge against the battle-tested Thomson.
This shapes up as a very solid matchup in the 155-pound division. Johnson will be seeking the most notable victory of his career in the hopes of continuing his career resurgence, while Thomson will be looking to work his way back into title contention.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports