After an injury riddled year that saw a record number of fighters pull out of high-profile bouts due to various ailments, the UFC finally seemed to shake off the bad luck that seemed to follow them through 2012. With only a few months left in 2013 and an absolutely stacked second half of the year, the rest of 2013 looked like smooth sailing for UFC fight fans.
But an unfortunate injury to newly crowned UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis’ knee seemed to throw a wrench into the UFC’s plans.
Originally scheduled to face Josh Thomson in his first title defense at UFC on Fox 9 on December 14 in Sacramento, Pettis was forced to pull out of the bout after it was revealed he would require surgery on his torn PCL.
With their champion sidelined for what could be six months and a fight card left without a main event, several upcoming UFC fight cards went through some serious reshuffling.
The first major change came when the UFC moved the UFC flyweight championship fight between Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson from the main event of the TUF 18: Finale, taking place November 30, to the main of event of UFC on Fox 9. This change caused promotion of the rubber match between UFC lightweight veterans Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz from the co-main event to the headlining bout of the TUF 18: Finale.
With one problem solved, the UFC was still left with question: What do we do with Thomson?
Thomson, who made his return to the organization in April after rival company Strikeforce was absorbed into the UFC, was coming off a Knockout of the Night performance over Nate Diaz back at UFC on Fox 8.
With a strong performance Thomson was considered a fringe contender for the title and would undoubtedly earn his title shot with another impressive performance. But after T.J. Grant revealed he was still suffering the effects of a concussion that caused him to pull out of his own title fight at UFC 164, Thomson eagerly stepped up in his place.
Now left with no opponent and no title, UFC President Dana White revealed Thomson is now scheduled to face the former champion and Glendale native Benson Henderson in the main event of UFC on Fox in 10.
Henderson, who was riding a seven fight winning streak before a first submission loss to Pettis at UFC 164, had defended his belt three times with wins over former UFC champion Frankie Edgar, TUF 5 champion Nate Diaz and former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez.
A win for Thomson will guarantee he will hold onto his number one contender position as Henderson, who is currently the number one ranked lightweight according to the official UFC divisional rankings, is the next best thing outside of facing the current champion.
But a win for Henderson doesn’t necessarily means he will secure a rematch as “Smooth” has already lost to Pettis on two different occasions. But if he can win in impressive fashion the buzz from fight fans may be enough to persuade White into booking a third fight between Pettis and Henderson.
UFC on FOX 10 takes place Jan. 25 at United Center in Chicago, the main card is scheduled to air on FOX while the preliminary bouts will air on FOX Sports 1.