UFC Fight Night 148 Betting Preview: Does Anthony Pettis have a Shot vs. Stephen Thompson?

UFC Fight Night 148 Betting Preview: Does Anthony Pettis have a Shot vs. Stephen Thompson? article feature image
Credit:

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Stephen Thompson (left), Anthony Pettis (right).

UFC Fight Night 148 betting odds: Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson vs. Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis

  • Stephen Thompson -380
  • Anthony Pettis +290
  • Channel: ESPN+
  • Time: Approx. 10:00 p.m. ET

The UFC travels to Nashville, Tennessee this weekend for the latest fight night on ESPN+.

No. 3 welterweight contender Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson will face off with No. 8 lightweight Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis, who will be making his UFC debut at 170 pounds.

Pettis deserves plenty of respect as a former UFC lightweight champion, but things haven’t been great in recent years. Showtime started his UFC career by winning five of six fights inside the octagon, but he’s since lost six of nine fights dating back to 2015.

Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for an active welterweight contender to decisively defeat Thompson. His only career losses came to Matt Brown in 2012, Tyron Woodley in 2017 and Darren Till in 2018. The fight against Brown was a non-controversial unanimous decision victory, but media members preferred Thompson in both of the other closely-contested matches (per MMAdecisions.com).

Thompson carries fairly significant size, striking and defensive advantages over Pettis. There’s little doubt that Showtime is the more-dangerous fighter on the ground, although six of his eight career takedowns in the UFC came during his second fight in the promotion against Jeremy Stephens.

Let’s break down each competitors path to victory ahead of Saturday night’s main event.

How Wonderboy can win

Thompson’s aforementioned statistical advantages can’t be overstated. He holds a 2-inch height and 3-inch reach advantage over Pettis, which will look even more pronounced come Saturday night thanks to Thompson’s long karate-style stance.

Standing up with Thompson has been a death sentence for nearly every fighter he has faced inside the Octagon. Wonderboy won a dizzying number of amateur and professional world championships as a kickboxer in the early 2000s before successfully making the switch to mixed martial arts.

This high-level world-class attack has enabled Thompson to rip off a number of impressive wins over:

  • Current middleweight champion Robert Whittaker (via first-round TKO)
  • Current Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald (via unanimous decision)
  • Current No. 5 welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal (via unanimous decision)
  • Former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks (via first-round TKO)
  • Long-time welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger (via first-round KO)
  • Former middleweight No. 1 contender Patrick Cote (via unanimous decision)

Wonderboy combines incredible footwork with a lethal array of kicks and punches that come from every angle. He’s a puzzle that has barely been solved after two decades of fighting at some of the highest levels of combat sports.

Wrestlers and boxers alike have struggled to even get close to Thompson thanks to his aforementioned footwork and elite athleticism. Failure to pressure Wonderboy allows him to comfortably switch stances and pick apart opponents with kicks and punches from range.

Thompson has demonstrated the ability to go all five round with ease in four of his last fight fights. He has typically increased his output during the later stages of each contest.

Pretty much the only time we’ve seen Wonderboy look human is when he’s been on the receiving end of a flush power shot.

Both Till (once) and Woodley (twice) have managed to knock Thompson down, although he managed to recover on all three occasions. Woodley (twice) and Brown (five times) are the only men to take Thompson to the ground inside the Octagon.

How Showtime can win

If you’re wondering why this fight is even taking place, allow Pettis himself to explain:

“Wonderboy it’s just he is one of those guys I need to fight before I’m done … Before I retire I want to fight in the fights I want, and personally, that was one of the fights I wanted. I like his style, I come from a Tae-Kwon Do background he comes from a Karate background. It is an entertaining fight. He is just one of those guys who will come to fight.”

Part of the allure of the matchup for Pettis is undoubtedly the expectation that this fight will be a stand-up contest. Showtime has struggled to avoid takedowns throughout his career, sometimes at-will against the likes of Dustin Poirier (five takedowns), Charles Oliveira (four), Eddie Alvarez (six), Rafael Dos Anjos (nine) and Clay Guida (five).

Of course, getting taken down isn’t always the worst thing in the world for Pettis considering his lethal submission game off his back.

Winning by way of submission has been Showtime’s preferred route to victory during his UFC career.

  • vs. Michael Chiesa: Submission (triangle armbar)
  • vs. Jim Miller: Decision (unanimous)
  • vs. Charles Oliveira: Submission (guillotine choke)
  • vs. Gilbert Melendez: Submission (guillotine choke)
  • vs. Benson Henderson: Submission (armbar)
  • vs. Donald Cerrone: KO (body kick)
  • vs. Joe Lauzon: KO (head kick and punches)
  • vs. Jeremy Stephens: Decision (split)

It’s a good thing that Pettis possesses such slick finishing skills, as he’s failed to consistently exert his will in recent fights. Showtime is actually hit by more significant strikes (3.16) per minute than he lands himself (2.85), which is obviously a problem against a striker as skilled and dangerous as Wonderboy.

Pettis has expressed his pleasure with not having to worry about a draining weight cut for this camp, but the cost is a less-than-ideal matchup against arguably the best-pure striker to ever compete in the UFC. Showtime will need to make any-and-every opportunity on the ground count considering he hasn’t landed multiple takedowns in a fight since 2011.

Current and Past Odds

Wonderboy is as big of a favorite as we’ve seen during the past half decade, while this is the third time that Pettis has been a significant dog against a fellow world class opponent.

Prediction

It’s clear Thompson deserves to be a heavy favorite in this contest. With that said, I don’t love the idea of backing a fighter straight up that has a history of losing controversial decisions AND is currently offering the least volume we’ve seen in quite some time.

Instead, let’s focus on the chance that this fight manages to reach the judge’s scorecards. Wonderboy has demonstrated plenty of knockout power in both his feet and fists over the years, but he’s managed just one knock down — and zero finishes — during his last five fights.

Saturday wouldn’t be the first time that Pettis hasn’t made it to the final bell, but each of his three career losses by TKO were either influenced by an injury (Ferguson and Poirier) or extreme weight cut (Holloway).

I like Thompson to coast to a decisive decision victory and am happy to get plus odds for just that.

The Pick: Thompson by decision +150

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