Superman Punch = Knock Out!

24 Mar, 2019

With the kind of highlight-reel power that first helped him acquire his “Showtime” nickname, Anthony Pettis proved on Saturday in the main event of UFC Nashville why he is never out of a fight. 

Pettis (22-8) made sure a move up to welterweight at age 32 was more reinvention than desperation by rallying for a dramatic knockout of Stephen Thompson, who entered their bout at Bridgestone Arena as the UFC’s No. 4 ranked fighter at 170 pounds. 

With his face bloodied after losing nearly every second of the first four rounds against the longer and awkward Thompson (14-4-1), it was Pettis who channeled his spectacular history for creating viral moments. After bouncing off the cage with his back, Pettis landed a Superman punch via right hook that surprised Thompson and knocked him cold as the back of his head hit the canvas. 

Pettis, a former lightweight champion, leaped in to land two more shots as referee Herb Dean waved off the fight at 4:55 of Round 2.  

“That’s the Superman with the hook,” Pettis said. “He was catching me with jabs and I knew he had range on me but I know I was hurting his back legs with kicks and it set up the right hand.” 

The knockout was the first of Thompson’s 19-bout career and was the first recorded by Pettis since he stopped Donald Cerrone via body kick in 2012. To say the victory was huge for Pettis’ future would be an understatement after going just 3-6 over the last four years, including a failed run at featherweight. 

The loss was also of the more heart-breaking variety for Thompson, 36, who dominated the majority of the fight yet suffers consecutive defeats for the first time in his career. Despite a competitive two-fight series with then-champion Tyron Woodley and a disputed decision loss to Darren Till last year, Thompson falls to 1-3-1 in his last five fights. 

Thompson controlled the opening round with leg kicks and stiff jabs that split Pettis’ guard. He was also the busier fighter who very much looked like he was representing another division altogether opposite Pettis. But all of that changed with one big left hand. 

“I don’t want to fight no one behind me, especially at lightweight,” Pettis said. “The weight cut was killing me — 145, 155 and now 170. I better get a ranking after this.”

Pettis said he hopes to fight either Rafael dos Anjos in a rematch at welterweight or the winner of the upcoming lightweight bout next Saturday between Edson Barboza and Justin Gaethje.

“This is for the fans, I just want to put on a show for everybody, that’s what I want to do,” Pettis said. “I felt so good coming in to the camp and for the weight cut [at 170 pounds]. I’ll be here for a while but I’m not done at 155 either.”

CBS Sports

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