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Dana White: Anthony Pettis did to Stephen Thompson what Tyron Woodley ‘couldn’t do twice’

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Dana White post-fight
Dana White was impressed by Anthony Pettis’ performance at UFC Nashville.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Count UFC president Dana White among those blown away by Anthony Pettis’ stunning second-round knockout of Stephen Thompson at UFC Nashville.

After getting busted up by Thompson for the opening nine minutes of the contest, Pettis floored “Wonderboy” with a thunderous superman punch late in round two in a fight that served as his welterweight debut. The win rocketed Pettis into instant contendership in the 170-pound division, and White couldn’t help but heap praise upon the former lightweight champion for accomplishing a feat that no one else at welterweight has been able to do.

“Pettis was a +385 underdog, huge underdog. I loved his gameplan from the beginning,” White said Saturday night on the ESPN+ post-fight show. “I’m assuming — I don’t know this — (coach) Duke Roufus studied ‘Wonderboy’ and the way that he jumps with his karate movement, it’s hard to block leg kicks, so he started busting up the legs early, both legs, on the outside, on the inside, to try to slow him down so he could punch with him.

“Think about this,” White continued, “Anthony Pettis, who was 155 and moved up to 170, was able to do what (Tyron) Woodley couldn’t do twice. I mean, that’s pretty impressive. And I’m not ragging on Tyron, which is going to be the thing that comes out of this, but what Pettis did tonight is unbelievable against a bigger [opponent]. Look at the size difference with these two tonight.”

Pettis’ performance sent shockwaves throughout the welterweight landscape on Saturday night. Former foe Rafael dos Anjos tweeted that he would welcome a rematch against Pettis once the Brazilian fights Kevin Lee at UFC Rochester. The win also caught the eye of UFC superstar Conor McGregor, who seemingly tweeted out a challenge to Pettis in the aftermath of the contest.

So with options aplenty, what does White want next for Pettis?

“Listen, I like any matchup for him after what he did tonight,” White said. “Very impressive. A very impressive gameplan. He came in, he executed. ‘Wonderboy’ was busting him up in the first round, the second round. He kept his composure, stuck to [what] I’m assuming was the gameplan — I don’t know that — but he looked damn good tonight.”