Josh Thomson fought a poor fight against KJ Noons and managed to notch a victory in the least impressive way possible. Outside of a submission attempt that almost succeeded late in the fight, Thomson fought noticeably poor by his own admission. He admitted as such to Mauro Ranallo immediately after the fight and while he’s probably the next in line for a shot at lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, nothing he did in that fight justifies his position as perhaps the next #1 contender to Melendez’s title. His history as a former champion and the intrigue of a rubber match between the two can justify it from a hype standpoint. But unfortunately the fighter who should be facing Melendez next won on the Tate vs. Rousey card fought on the card won’t be getting a title shot.
Pat Healy ought to be next in line.
Coming off a thrilling submission win over Carlos Fodor on the undercard, Healy is on a four fight win streak and doesn’t have the extensive injury history that Thomson does. Healy has also progressed as a fighter since his loss to Thomson in 2010. Thomson has been in a slow decline since his win over Melendez in 2008. His injury hiatuses have masked this but it was evident in that Melendez went from being swept on the scorecards the first time to be the one doing the sweeping in the rematch. Melendez now would make quick work of the Thomson that showed up Saturday night and it was evident when he discussed a potential rematch while giving commentary. It would be a paycheck and another victory for Melendez, most likely, but it wouldn’t be the sort of grand trilogy that one imagines Scott Coker and Strikeforce imagine it to be.
It’d be the culmination of the downfall of one fighter and the rise of another over an approximate five year span. Thomson’s decline wasn’t evident despite his being one of the best lightweights in the world outside the Zuffa banner because he’s been hurt for such long portions of his career. Injuries have robbed a lot of the explosiveness that Thomson once had. Lightweight fighters tend to decline quicker than in any other division and Thomson now is a shell of his former self. If and when he steps in against Melendez it’ll be one final run at glory but Melendez now will wreck the fighter that Thomson is now.
That fight won’t mean as much in reality as it does on paper because Thomson is clearly on the decline. KJ Noons is a good fighter but will never be good enough to fight in the UFC on a consistent basis. He has all the tools you’d want in a fighter from good looks to a pro boxing background but just doesn’t have the total abilities to be able to survive in the UFC lightweight division. This is the type of fighter Thomson would’ve put away not too long ago. The fact that he struggled with him says volumes about where he is as a fighter right now.
Healy, on the other hand, is on a remarkable rise from the ashes of mediocre welterweight status as a burgeoning lightweight fighter. On a four fight win streak, all of whom were in the past 12 months, Healy is an exciting fighter who would present an interesting challenge for one of the top three lightweights in the world. He’s a fighter on the rise who has made a leap up from hitting a plateau. Dropping to a more natural lightweight from welterweight, Healy has gotten better incrementally and submitted both with quality submission work.
Ever since the loss to Thomson nearly two years ago Healy is an entirely different and better fighter than he used to be. Right now Healy looks to be potentially a fringe top 10 lightweight in the world if matched up against the UFC lightweight division. With some better competition one can imagine he’d be competitive with guys like Clay Guida and Donald Cerrone in the near future. You can’t say the same about Josh Thomson right now. And that’s why despite his placement in the co-main event of the card, and the implication with Melendez’s prominent placement during his fight, shouldn’t be next in line for the champion.
Tags: Gilbert Melendez, Josh Thomson, Mixed Martial Arts, Pat Healy