Anthony Pettis overcame a rough start to win his welterweight debut over Stephen Thompson on Saturday night with a stunning Superman-punch knockout in the closing seconds of the second round of the main event at UFC Fight Night in Nashville.
Pettis (22-8), a former lightweight champion who also has fought and won at 145 pounds, was battered and bloodied as Thompson landed a number of jabs in the first two rounds.
But Thompson came close without his hands up for protection and caught only partial contact with a body kick. Pettis then leapt forward off his left foot and fired a strong right from midair, landing it on Thompson's left cheek and knocking him out cold. Pettis threw two more blows before the fight was stopped with five seconds left in the round.
"He was catching me with his jab, and I knew he had the range on me," said Pettis, who became the third fighter in UFC history to win fights at 145, 155 and 170 pounds. "I was trying to beat him up with low kicks. I knew I was hurting his back leg, and that's what set up the right hand."
Thompson (14-4-1) was knocked out for the first time in his career.
"With the sidekicks, I guess I didn't turn my hip over enough, and he just drilled me with a right hand," Thompson said on Facebook in a live video afterward. "After 80 fights, I've never been KO'd. This is the first time, and from a small guy, like a 155er. I can't believe he got me with the Superman ."
Pettis, 32, had gone 2-2 since returning to lightweight fighting in July of 2017, after going 1-1 as a featherweight. He said afterward he is undecided on what weight he plans to fight at next.
In other action Saturday night, Curtis Blaydes (11-2, one NC) beat Justin Willis (8-2) via decision in a heavyweight bout; lightweight John Makdessi (17-6) beat Jesus Pinedo (16-5-1) in a decision; Jussier Formiga (23-5) decisioned Deiveson Figueiredo (15-1) in a lightweight fight; featherweight Luis Pena (6-1) decisioned Steven Peterson (17-8); and flyweight Mayce Barber (7-0) scored a technical knockout of JJ Aldrich (7-3).
--Field Level Media