UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis has a new opponent for his first title defense inside the Octagon.
UFC announced on Monday night that TJ Grant is out of UFC on FOX 9 with an injury, and former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson will fight for the UFC title on Dec. 14 in Sacramento, Calif.
Thomson returned to the UFC after nine years with a second-round TKO win over Nate Diaz, and Pettis knows he is as tough as his original opponent.
"I already expected that Thomson would get the shot," Pettis told MMAFighting.com through his jiu-jitsu coach Diego Moraes. "I know TJ would've been a tough fight, and I feel for him, but I will be prepared (for Thomson)."
Both Grant and Thomson have finished the majority of their fights via submission, but Pettis expects a stand-up battle against Thomson.
"It's a different game, but he's a striker so it's a good match-up for us," he said. "We've trained jiu-jitsu together once in Hawaii, so I know what he can bring to the fight."
As soon as Grant announced on Twitter that he was unable to compete on December, fans started asking for UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo to take his place at UFC on FOX 9’s main event.
Pettis still wants that fight to happen, but he didn’t expect the Brazilian to take the call.
"I don't think the UFC would stop both divisions," he said, "but this fight will definitely happen. Everybody wants this fight."